Skip to main content

Full text of "The book of the ladies (illustrious dames)"

See other formats

•^ * 


''^A V^ 

"^y^ V^^ 

^^^ -''^^ 



^^ V> 


^>. v-^' 

y x^ 

-^^^ .- 

s ,0 -^ 'J .- V s ^ 




■£ = V 


,\\|f/^;3 %-,,^^' 



•' #^^". 

:,\ ■ . 

^^ v^^ 



C \^ ''^^ ".^ 



o-^ -Tt., 



H^^^ :^ 





« 'o 0' 

9 , ^ '^ v^^'^ 

. * .--> ^ ^ .^ 

* 8 1 V - \\- 

* c_ 



'^'^ .<^ 

' " * '^ 

^^^ -^^ 

^^ yy 

.^^^ ^ 

^<.4^ *i<\w.'^" = ^^.. .c^^ - 

* '^^j}'^ ^' ■■•■■ 

c\ V ,^ 



Limited to Eight Hundred Numbered Sets, of which 
this is 



|;H:^ ,i;i.ii,,iiii|i| n iii|i!ii|!ii;i!ii|!i|!!iiii|ii! i|!i !J i:Vi 

7. v.sMasat^iifi/ti 










^TranslatEli trg 








Copyright, 1899, 
By Hardy, Pratt & Company. 

All rights reserved. 




John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A. 





DISCOURSE I. Anne de Beetagne, Queen of France .... 25 

Sainte-Beuve's remarks upon her .- . 40 

DISCOURSE II. Catherine de' Medici, Queen, and mother of 

our last kings 44 

Sainte-Beuve's remarks upon her 85 

DISCOURSE III. Marie Stuaet, Queen of Scotland, formerly 

Queen of our France 89 

Sainte-Beuve's essay on her 121 

DISCOURSE IV. :feLisABETH OF France, Queen of Spain ... 138 

DISCOURSE V. Marguerite, Queen of France and of Navarre, 

sole daughter now remaining of the Noble House of France 152 

Sainte-Beuve's essay on her 193 

DISCOURSE VI. Mesdames, the Daughters of the Noble House 
of France : 

Madame Yoland 214 

Madame Jeanne 215 

Madame Anne 216 

Madame Claude 219 

Madame Renee 220 

' Mesdames Charlotte, Louise, Magdelaine, Marguerite » . . . 229 

Madame Diane 231 

Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre 234 

Sainte-Beuve's essay on the latter ^ . 243 


DISCOURSE VII. Of Various Illustrious Ladies : Page 

Isabelle d'Autriche, wife of Charles IX 262 

Jeanne d'Autriche, wife of the Infante of Portugal 270 

Marie d'Autriche, wife of the Iving of Hungary 273 

Louise de Lorraine, wife of Henri III 280 

Marguerite de Lorraine, wife of the Due de Joyeuse 282 

Christine of Denmark, wife of the Due de Lorraine 283 

Marie d'Autriche, wife of the Emperor Maximilian n 291 

Blanche de Montferrat, Duchesse de Savoie 293 

Catherine de Cleves, wife of Henri I. de Lorraine, Due de Guise 297 

Madame de Bourdeille 297 


INDEX 305 


PiEKEE DE BouEDEiLLE, Abbe AND Seigneur de Beantome Frontispiece 

From an old engraving by I. Von Schley. 


Feancois de Loeeaine, Due de Guise 8 

By Fran9ois Clouet ; in the Louvre. 

I. Tomb of Louis XII. and Anne de Beetagne 34 

By Jean Juste, in the Cathedral of Saint-Denis. The king and 
queen are carved as skeletons within the twelve columns; 
above they kneel at their prie-dieus, and the tradition is 
that the portraits are faithful. The cardinal virtues, Justice, 
Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude, sit at the corners of 
the monument; the twelve apostles between the pillars; 
and round the base, between the virtues, are exquisite rep- 
resentations (not visible in the reproduction) of the king's 
campaigns in Italy. 

II. Catheeine de' Medici, Queen of Feance 44 

School of the sixteenth century ; in the Louvre. 

II. Henei II., King of Feance 52 

By Fran9ois Clouet ; in the Louvre. 

II. Ball at the Couet of Henei III., with Porteaits ... 81 

Attributed to Francois Clouet ; in the Louvre. See descrip- 
tion in note to Discourse VII. 

III. Maeie Stuaet, Queen of Feance and Scotland .... 90 

Painter unknown ; in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. 

III. The Same 120 

School of the sixteenth century ; Versailles. 

IV. Elisabeth de Feance, Queen of Spain 138 

By Rubens ; in the Louvre. 


DiscouESK Paob 

V. Henri IV., King of France 166 

By Franz Pourbus (le jeune) ; in the Louvre. 

V. Coronation of Marie de' Medici, with Portraits . . . 211 
By Rubens (Peter Paul); in the Louvre. See description in 
note to the Discourse. 

VI. Francois I., King of France 224 

By Jean Clouet ; in the Louvre. 

VI. Diane de France, Duchesse d'Angodleme 232 

School of the sixteenth century ; in the Louvre. 
VII. Isabelle d'Autriche, Wife of Charles IX 262 

By Fran9.ois Clouet; in the Louvre. 
VII. Charles IX., King of France 271 

By Fran9ois Clouet; in the Louvre. 
VII. Louise de Lorraine, Wife of Henri III 280 

School of the sixteenth century : in the Louvre. 

Vn. Henri III., King of France 286 

School of the sixteenth centurj' ; in the Louvre. 


The title, " Vie des Dames Illustres," given habitually to 
one volume of Brantome's Works, is not that which was 
chosen by its author. It was given by his first editor fifty 
years after his death; Brantome himself having called his 
work "The Book of the Ladies." 

One of his earliest commentators, Castelnaud, almost a 
cotemporary, says of him in his Memoirs : — 

" Pierre de Bourdeille, Abbd de Brantome, author of vol- 
umes of which I have availed myself in various parts of this 
history, used his quality as one of those warrior abb^s who 
were called Ahbates Milites under the second race of our 
kings ; never ceasing for all that to foUow arms and the 
Court, where his services won him the Collar of the Order and 
the dignity of gentleman of the Bedchamber to the King. 

" He frequented, with unusual esteem for his courage and 
intelligence, the principal Courts of Europe, such as Spain, 
Portugal (where the king honoured him with his Order), 
Scotland, and those of the Princes of Italy. He went to 
Malta, seeking an occasion to distinguish himself, and after that 
lost none in our wars of France. But, although he managed 
perfectly all the great captains of his time and belonged to 
them by alliance of friendship, fortune was ever contrary to 

1 Taken chiefly from the Essays preceding the various editions of 
Brantome's works published in the 18th and 19th centuries ; some of which 
are anonymous ; the more recent being those of M. H. Vignaud and M. 
Henri Moland. — Tr. 



him ; so that he never obtained a position worthy, not of his 
merits only, but of a name so illustrious as his. 

" It was this that made him of a rather bad humour in his 
retreat at BrantOme, where he set himself to compose his 
books in different frames of mind, according as the persons 
who recurred to his memory stirred his bile or touched his 
heart. It is to be wished that he had written a discourse on 
himself alone, like other seigneurs of his time. He would 
then have shown us much, if nothing were omitted in it ; 
but perhaps he abstaiaed from doing this in order not to 
declare his inclinations for the House of Lorraine at the very 
moment of the ruin of all its schemes ; for he was greatly 
attached to that house, and it appears in various places that 
he had more respect than affection for the House of Bourbon. 
It was this that made him take part against the Salic law, in 
behalf of Queen Marguerite, whom he esteemed infinitely, 
and whom he saw, with regret, deprived of the Crown of 

" In many other matters he gives out sentiments which have 
more of the courtier than the abbd ; indeed to be a courtier 
was his principal profession, as it still is with the greater 
part of the abb^s of the present day ; and in view of this 
quality we must pardon various little liberties which would 
be less pardonable in a sworn historian. 

" I do not speak of the volume of the ' Dames Galantes ' in 
order not to condemn the memory of a nobleman whose other 
Works have rendered him worthy of so much esteem ; I 
attribute the crime of that book to the dissolute habits of the 
Court of his time, about which more terrible tales could be 
told than those he relates. 

" There is something to complain of in the method with 
which he writes; but perhaps the name of 'Notes' may 
cover this defect. However that may be, we can gather from 


him much and very important knowledge on our History ; 
and France is so indebted to him for this labour that I do 
not hesitate to say that the services of his sword must yield 
in value to those of his pen. He had much wit and was 
well read in Letters. In youth he was very pleasing ; but 
I have heard those who knew him intimately say that the 
griefs of his old age lay heavier upon him than his arms, and 
were more displeasing than the toils and fatigues of war by 
sea or land. He regretted his past days, the loss of friends, 
and he saw nothing that could equal the Court of the Yalois, 
in which he was born and bred. . . ." 

" The family of Bourdeille is not only illustrious in tem- 
poral prosperities, but it is remarkable throughout antiquity 
for the valour of its ancestors. King Charlemagne held it 
in great esteem^ which he showed by choosing, when the 
splendid abbey of Brantome was founded in P^rigord, that 
the Seigneur de Bourdeille should be associated in that pious 
work and be, with him, the founder of the Monastery. He 
therefore made him its patron, and obliged his posterity to 
defend it against all who might molest the monks and hinder 
them in the enjoyment of their property. 

" If we may rely on ancient deeds [pancartes"] still in pos- 
session of this family, we must accord it a first rank among 
those which claim to be descended from kings, inasmuch as 
they carry back its origin to Marcomir, King of France, and 
Tiloa Bourdelia, daughter of a king of England. 

" The same old deeds relate that Nicanor, son of this Mar- 
comir, being appealed to by the people of Aquitaine to assist 
them in throwing off the Eoman yoke, and having come with 
an army very near to Bordeaux, was compelled to withdraw 
by the violence of the Eomans, who were stronger than he, 
and also by a tempest that arose in the sea. Nicanor cast 
anchor at an island, uninhabited on account of the wild beasts 


that peopled it, and especially certain griffins, animals with 
four feet, and heads and wings like eagles. 

" He had no sooner set foot on land with his men than he 
was forced to fight these monsters, and after battling with 
them a long time, not without loss of soldiers, he succeeded 
in vanquishing them. With his own hand he killed the 
largest and j&ercest of them all, and cut off his paws. This 
victory greatly rejoiced all the neighbouring countries, which 
had suffered much damage from these beasts. 

" On account of this affair, Nicanor was ever after surnamed 
' The Griffin ' and honoured by every one, like Herciiles 
when he killed the Stymphalides in Arcadia, those birds of 
prey that feed on human flesh. This is the origin of the 
arms which the Seigneurs de Brantome bear to this day, to 
wit: Or, two griffins' paws gules, onglde azure, counter 

Pierre de Bourdeille, third son of Frangois, Vicomte de 
Bourdeille and Anne de Vivonne de la Chataignerie, was 
born in the P^rigord in 1537, under the reign of Frangois I. 
The family of Bourdeille is one of the most ancient and 
respected in the P^rigord, which province borders on Gas- 
cony and echoes, if we may say so, the caustic tongue and 
rambling, restless temperaments that flourish on the banks of 
the Garonne. " Not to boast of myself," says Brantome, " I 
can assert that none of my race have ever been home-keeping ; 
they have spent as much time in travels and wars as any, no 
matter who they be, in Prance." 

As for his father, Brantome gives an amusing account of 
Mm as a true Gascon seigneur. He began life by running 
away from home to go to the wars in Italy, and roam the 
world as an adventurer. He was, says BrantSme, " a jovial 
fellow, who could say his word and talk familiarly to the 


greatest personages." Pope Julius II. took a fancy to him. 
"One day they were playing cards together and the pope 
won from my father three hundred crowns and his horses, 
which were very fine, and all his equipments. After he had 
lost aU, he said : ' Chadieu Unit ! ' (that was his oath when 
he was angry ; when he was good-natured he swore : ' Char- 
don Unit !') — ' Chadieu Unit ! pope, play me five hundred 
crowns against one of my ears, redeemable in eight days. If 
I don't redeem it 1 11 give you leave to cut it off, and eat it 
if you Kke.' The pope took him at his word ; and confessed 
afterwards that if my father had not redeemed his ear, he 
would not have cut it off, but he would have forced him to 
keep him company. They began to play again, and fortune 
willed that my father won back everything except a fine 
courser, a pretty little Spanish horse, and a handsome mule. 
The pope cut short the game and would not play any more. 
My father said to him : ' Hey ! Chadieu ! pope, leave me my 
horse for money ' (for he was very fond of him) ' and keep the 
courser, who will throw you and break your neck, for he is 
too rough for you ; and keep the mule too, and may she rear 
and break your leg ! ' The pope laughed so he could not stop 
himself. At last, getting his breath, he cried out : ' I '11 do 
better ; I '11 give you back your two horses, but not the mule, 
and I '11 give you two other fine ones if you wiU keep me 
company as far as Eome and stay with me there two months ; 
we 'H pass the time well, and it shall not cost you anything.' 
My father answered : ' Chadieu ! pope, if you gave me your 
mitre and your cap, too, I would not do it ; I would n't quit 
my general and my companions just for your pleasure. 
Good-bye to you, rascal.' The pope laughed, while all the 
great captains, French and Italians, who always spoke so rev- 
erently to his Holiness, were amazed and laughed too at such 
liberty of language. Wlien the pope was on the point of 


leaving, he said to him, ' Ask what you want of me and you 
shall have it/ thinking my father would ask for his horses ; 
but my father did not ask anything, except for a hcense 
and dispensation to eat butter in Lent, for his stomach could 
never get accustomed to olive and nut oiL The pope gave it 
him readily, and sent him a bull, which was long to be seen 
in the archives of our house." 

The young Pierre de Bourdeille spent the first years of 
his existence at the Court of Marguerite de Yalois, sister of 
Frangois I., to whom his mother was lady-in-waiting. After 
the death of that princess in 1549 he came to Paris to begin 
his studies, which he ended at Poitiers about the year 1556. 

Being the youngest of the family he was destined if not 
for the Church at least for church benefices, which he 
never lacked through life. An elder brother, Captain de 
Bourdeille, a vahant soldier, having been killed at the siege 
of Hesdin by a cannon-ball which took off his head and the 
arm that held a glass of water he was drinking on the breach. 
King Henri 11. desired, in recognition of so glorious a death, 
to do some favour to the Bourdeille family ; and the abbey 
of Brantome falling vacant at this very time, he gave it to the 
young Pierre de Bourdeille, then sixteen years old, who 
henceforth bore the name of Seigneur and Abb^ de Brantome, 
abbreviated after a while to BrantSme, by which name he is 
known to posterity. In a few legal deeds of the period, 
especially family documents, he is mentioned as " the rever- 
end father in God, the Abbd de Brantome." 

Brantome had possessed his abbey about a year when he 
began to dream of going to the wars in Italy ; this was the 
high-road to glory for the young French nobles, ever since 
Charles VIII. had shown them the way. Brantome obtained 
from Francois I. permission to cut timber in the forest of 
Saint-Trieix ; this cut brought him in five hundred golden 


crowns, with which he departed in 1558, "bearing," he says, 
" a matchlock arquebuse, a fine powder-horn from Milan, 
and mounted on a hackney worth a hundred crowns, fol- 
lowed by six or seven gentlemen, soldiers themselves, well 
set-up, armed and mounted the same, but on good stout 

He went first to Geneva, and there he saw the Calvinist 
emigration; continuing his way he stayed at Milan and 
Ferrara, reaching Eome soon after the death of Paul IV. 
There he was welcomed by the Grand-Prior of France, 
FranQois de Guise, who had brought his brother, the Cardinal 
of Lorraine, to assist in the election of a new pontiff. 

This was the epoch of the Ptenaissance, — that epoch when 
the knightly king made all Europe resound with the fame 
of his amorous and warlike prowess ; when Titian and 
Primaticcio were leaving on the walls of palaces their im- 
mortal handiwork; when Jean Goujon was carving his 
figures on the fountains and the fagades of the Louvre; 
when Eabelais was inciting that mighty roar of laughter 
which, in itself, is a whole human comedy ; when the Mar- 
guerite of Marguerites was telling in her "Heptameron" 
those charming tales of love. Francois I. dies ; his son suc- 
ceeds him ; Protestantism makes serious progress. Mont- 
gomery kills Henri IL, and Francois IL ascends the throne 
only to live a year ; and then it is that Marie Stuart leaves 
France, the tears in her eyes, sadly singing as the beloved 
shores over which she had reigned so short a while re- 
cede from sight: "Farewell, my pleasant land of France, 
farewell ! " 

Eeturning to France without any warrior fame but closely 
attached by this time to the Guises, BrantSme took to a 
Court hfe. He assisted in a tournament between the grand- 
prior, Frangois de Guise, disguised as an Egyptian womauj 


" having on her arm a little monkey swaddled as an infant, 
which kept its baby face there is no telling how," and M. de 
Nemours, dressed as a bourgeoise housekeeper wearing at 
her belt more than a hundred keys attached to a thick silver 
chain. He witnessed the terrible scene of the execution of 
the Huguenot nobles at Amboise (March, 1560); was at 
Orleans when the Prince de Cond^ was arrested, and at 
Poissy for the reception of the Knights of Saint-Michel. 
In short, he was no more " home-keeping " in France than in 
foreign parts. 

Charles IX., then about ten years old, succeeded his brother 
Frangois II. in December, 1560. The following year Due 
FranQois de Guise was commissioned to escort his niece, 
Marie Stuart, to Scotland. BrantSme went with them, saw 
the threatening reception given to the queen by her sullen 
subjects, and then returned with the duke by way of Eng- 
land. In London, Queen Elizabeth greeted them most 
graciously, deigning to dance more than once with Due 
Francois, to whom she said : " Monsieur mon prieur " (that 
was how she called him) " I like you very much, but not 
your brother, who tore my town of Calais from me." 

Brantome returned to France at the moment when the 
edict of Saint-Germain granting to Protestants the exercise 
of their religion was promulgated, and he was struck by 
the change of aspect presented by the Court and the whole 
nation. The two armed parties were face to face ; the Cal- 
vinists, scarcely escaped from persecution, seemed certain of 
approachmg triumph ; the Prince de Cond^, with four hun- 
dred gentlemen, escorted the preachers to Charenton through 
the midst of a quivering population. " Death to papists ! " — 
the very cry Brantome had first heard on landing in Scot- 
land, where it sounded so ill to his ears — was beginning 
to be heard in France, to which the cry of " Death to the 


F«' ^ 




' 'IM 

W^ / 

k " 

Wf^ ^jS^ Imi 

■1 1 







1' * /4::>8b' 


■ M 

1 .i^!^MI 





"'• '^^. 


1 M 





!■' 1 


^HHk^ %^r 

BB^— - ■ — ^ .^gP 

.^^yf^fy '^J^n / f fv'/^^ (/i^ r^^,^ 



Huguenots!" responded in tlie breasts of an irritated popu- 
lace. Brantome did not hesitate as to the side he should 
take, — he was abb^, and attached to the Guises ; he fought 
through the war with them, took part in the sieges of Blois, 
Bourges, and Eouen, was present at the battle of Dreux, 
where he lost his protector the grand-prior, and attached 
himself henceforth to Frangois de Guise, the elder, whom 
he followed to the siege of Orldans in 1563, where the duke 
was assassinated by Poltrot de M^rd under circumstances 
which Brantome has vividly described in his chapter on that 
great captain. 

In 1564 Brant6me entered the household of the Due 
d'Anjou (afterwards Henri III.) as gentleman-in-waitiug to 
the prince, on a salary of six hundred Hvres a year. But, 
being seized again by his passion for distant expeditions, he 
engaged during the same year in an enterprise conducted 
by Spaniards against the Emperor of Morocco, and went 
with the troops of Don Garcia of Toledo to besiege and take 
the towns on the Barbary coast. He returned by way of 
Lisbon, pleased the king of Portugal, Sebastiano, who con- 
ferred upon him his Order of the Christ, and went from 
there to Madrid, where Queen Elisabeth gave him the cordial 
welcome on which he plumes himself in his Discourse upon 
that princess. He was commissioned by her to carry to 
her mother, Catherine de' Medici, the desire she felt to have 
an interview with her; which interview took place at 
Bayonne, Brantome not failing to be present. 

In that same year, 1565, Sultan Suleiman attacked the 
island of Malta. The grand-master of the Knights of Saint- 
John, Parisot de La Valette, called for the help of all Chris- 
tian powers. The French government had treaties with the 
Ottoman Porte which did not allow it to come openly to 
the assistance of the Knights; but many gentlemen, both 


Catholic and Protestant, took part as volunteers. Among 
them went Brantome, naturally. " We were," he says, " about 
three hundred gentlemen and eight hundred soldiers. IVl 
de Strozzi and M. de Bussac were with us, and to them we 
deferred our own wills. It was only a little troop, but as 
active and vahant as ever left France to fight the InfideL" 

While at Malta he seems to have had a fancy to enter 
the Order of the Knights of Saint-John, but Phihppe Strozzi 
dissuaded him. " He gave me to' understand," says Bran- 
tome, " that I should do wrong to abandon the fine fortune 
that awaited me in France, whether from the hand of my 
king, or from that of a beautiful, virtuous lady, and rich, to 
whom I was just then servant and welcome guest, so that I 
had hope of marrying her." 

He left Malta on a galley of the Order, intending to go 
to Naples, according to a promise he had made to the " beau- 
tiful and virtuous lady," the Marchesa del Yasto. But a 
contrary wind defeated his project, which he did not re- 
nounce without regret. In after years he considered this 
mischance a strong feature in his unfortunate destiny. " It 
was possible," he says, " that by means of Mme. la marquise 
I might have encountered good luck, either by marriage or 
otherwise, for she did me the kindness to love me. But I 
believe that my unhappy fate was resolved to bring me back 
to France, where never did fortune smile upon me ; I have 
always been duped by vain expectations ; I have received 
much honour and esteem, but of property and rank, none 
at all. Companions of mine who would have been proud 
had I deigned to speak to them at Court or in the chamber 
of the king or queen, have long been advanced before me ; 
I see them round as pumpkins and highly exalted, though 
I will not, for all that, defer to them to the length of my 
thumb-nail. That proverb; * No one is a prophet in his 


own country/ was made for me. If I had served foreign 
sovereigns as I have my own I should now be as loaded 
with wealth and dignities as I am with sorrows and years. 
Patience ! if Fate has thus woven my days, I curse her ! If 
my princes have done it, I send them aU to the devil, if they 
are not there already." 

But when he started from Malta BrantSme was still 
young, being then only twenty-eight years of age. " Jog- 
ging, meandering, vagabondizing," as he says, he reached 
Venice ; there he thought of going into Hungary in search 
of the Turks, whom he had not been able to meet in Malta. 
But the death of Sultan Suleiman stopped the invasion for 
one year at least, and Brantome reluctantly decided to return 
to France, passing through Piedmont, where he gave a proof 
of his disinterestedness, which he relates in his sketch of 
Marguerite, Duchesse de Savoie. 

Pleaching his own land he found the war he had been so 
far to seek without encountering it ; whereupon he recruited 
a company of foot-soldiers, and took part in the third civil 
war with the title of commander of two companies, though 
in fact there was but one. Shortly after this he resigned 
his command to serve upon the staff of Monsieur, com- 
mander-in-chief of the royal army. After the battle of 
Jarnac (March 15, 1569), being sick of an intermittent fever, 
he retired to his abbey, where his presence throughout the 
troubles was far from useless. But always more eager for 
distant expeditions than for the dulness of civil war, Bran- 
tome let himself be tempted by a grand project of Mar^chal 
Strozzi, who dreamed of nothing less than a descent on 
South America and the conquest of Peru. Brantome was 
commissioned in 1571 to go to the port of Brouage and 
direct the preparations for the armament. It was this en- 
terprise that prevented him from being present at the battle 


of Lepanto (October 7, 1571). " I should have gone there 
resolutely, as did that brave M. de Grillon," he says, " if it 
had not been for M. de Strozzi, who amused me a whole 
year with that fine embarkation at Brouage, which ended 
in nothing but the ruin of our purses, — to those of us at 
least who owned the vessels." But if the duties which kept 
him at Brouage robbed him of the glory of being present at 
the greatest battle of the age, it also saved him from being 
a witness of the Saint Bartholomew. 

The treaty of June 24, 1573, put an end to the siege of 
Rochelle and the fourth civil war. Charles IX. died on 
May 30, 1574. Monsieur, elected the year before to the 
throne of Poland, was in that distant country when the 
death of his brother made him king of France. He has- 
tened to return. Brantome went to meet him at Lyons 
and was one of the gentlemen of his Bedchamber from 1575 
to 1583. During the years just passed Brantome, besides the 
principal events already named in which he participated, 
took part in various little or great events in the daily life 
of the Court, such as : the quarrel of Sussy and Saint-ral, 
the splendid disgrace of Bussy d'Amboise, the death and 
obsequies of Charles IX., the coronation of Henri III., etc. 
Throughout them all he played the part of interested 
spectator, of active supernumerary without importance; 
discontented at times and sulky, but always unable to make 
himself feared. 

The years went by in this sterile round. He was now 
thirty-five years old. The hope of a great fortime was 
realized no more on the side of his king than on that of his 
beautiful, virtuous, and rich lady. He is, no doubt, " liked, 
known, and made welcome by the kings, his masters, by his 
queens and his princesses, and all the great seigneurs, who held 
him in such esteem that the name of Brantome had great 


renown." But he is not satisfied with the Court small- 
change in which his services are paid. He is vexed that 
his own lightheartedness is taken at its word ; he would be 
very glad indeed if that love of liberty with which he 
decked himself were put to greater trials. Philosopher in 
spite of himself, he finds his disappointments all the more 
painful because of his own opinion of his merits. He sees 
men to whom he believes himself superior, preferred before 
him. " His companions, not equal to him," he says in the 
epitaph he composed for himself, " surpassed him in benefits 
received, in promotions and ranks, but never in virtue or 
in merit." And he adds, with posthumous resignation : 
" God be praised nevertheless for all, and for his sacred 
mercy ! " 

Meantime, perchance a queen, Catherine de' Medici or 
Marguerite de Valois, deigns to drop into his ear some trifling 
word which he relishes with delight. Henri de Guise [le 
Balafr^], who was ten years younger than himself, called him 
"my son;" and the Baron de Montesquieu, the one that 
killed the Prince de Cond^ at Jarnac and was very much 
older than BrantSme, who had pulled him out of the water 
during certain aquatic games on the Seine, called him 
"father." Such were the familiarities with which he was 

He was, it is true, chevalier of the Order of Saint-Michel, 
but that was not enough to console his ambition. He com- 
plained that they degraded that honour, no longer reserved 
to the nobility of the sword. He thinks it bad, for instance, 
that it was granted to his neighbour, Michel de Montaigne. 
" We have seen " he says, " counsellors coming from the 
courts of parliament, abandoning robes and the square cap to 
drag a sword behind them, and at once the king decks them 
with the collar, without any pretext of their going to war. 


This is wliat was given to the Sieur de Montaigne, who 
would have done much better to continue to write his Essays 
instead of changing his pen into a sword, which does not suit 
him. The Marquis de Trans obtained the Order very easily 
from the king for one of his neighbours, no doubt in derision, 
for he is a great joker." Brantome always speaks very 
slightingly of Montaigne because the latter was of lesser 
nobility than his own ; but that does not prevent the Sieur 
de Montaigne from being to our eyes a much greater man 
than the Seigneur de Brantome. 

Brantome continued to follow the Court. He accompanied 
the queen-mother when she went in 1576 to Poitou to bring 
back the Due d'Alengon, who was dabbling in plots. He 
accompanied her again when she conducted in 1578 her 
daughter Marguerite to iSTavarre ; and at their solemn entry 
into Bordeaux he had the honour of being near them on the 
" scaffold," or, as we should say in the present day, the plat- 
form. He had also the luck to hear at Saint-Germain-en- 
Laye Kmg Henri III. make during his dinner, in presence of 
the Due de Joyeuse (on whose nuptials the fluent monarcli 
was destined to spend a million), a discourse worthy of Cato 
against luxury and extravagance. 

In 1582, his elder brother, Andr^ de Bourdeille, seneschal 
and governor of the P^rigord, died. He left a son scarcely 
nine years old. Brantome had obtained from King Henri III. 
a promise that he should hold those offices until the majority 
of his nephew, on condition of transmitting them at that 
time. The king confirmed this promise on several occasions 
during the last illness of Andrd de Bourdeille. But at the 
latter's death it was discovered that he had bound himself in 
his daughter's marriage contract to resign those ofl&ces to liis 
son-in-law. The king considered that he ought to respect 
this family arrangement. Brantome was keenly hurt. " On 


the second day of the year," he says, " as the king was 
returnmg from his ceremony of the Saint-Esprit, I made my 
complaint to him, more in anger than to implore him, as he 
well understood. He made me excuses, although he was my 
king. Among other reasons he said plainly that he could 
not refuse that resignation when presented to him, or he 
should be unjust. I made him no reply, except : ' Well, sire, 
I ought not to have put faith in you ; a good reason never to 
serve you again as I have served you.' On which I went 
away much vexed. I met several of my companions, to 
whom I related everything. I protested and swore that if 
I had a thousand lives not one would I employ for a King of 
Trance. I cursed my luck, I cursed life, I loathed the king's 
favour, I despised with a curling hp those beggarly fellows 
loaded with royal favours who were in no wise as worthy of 
them as I. Hanging to my belt was the gilt key to the king's 
bedroom ; I unfastened it and flung it from the Quai des 
Augustins, where I stood, into the river below. I never again 
entered the king's room ; I abhorred it, and I swore never to 
set foot in it any more. I did not, however, cease to frequent 
the Court and to show myself in the room of the queen, who 
did me the honour to like me, and in those of her ladies and 
maids of honour and of the princesses, seigneurs, and princes, 
my good friends. I talked aloud about my displeasure, so 
that the king, hearing of what I said, sent me a few words 
by M. du Halde, his head valet de chamhre. I contented 
myself with answering that I was the king's most obedient, 
and said no more." 

Monsieur (the Due d'Alengon) took notice of Brantome, 
and made him his chamberlain. About this time it was that 
he began to compose for this prince the " Discourses " after- 
wards made into a book and called " Vies des Dames 
Galantes," which he dedicated to the Due d'Alengon. The 


latter died in 1584, — a loss that dashed once more the hopes 
of Brantome and of others who, like him, had pinned their 
faith upon that prince. After all, Brantome had some reason 
to complain of his evd star. 

Then it was that BrantSme meditated vast and even 
criminal projects, which he himself has revealed to us : "I 
resolved to sell the little property I possessed in France and 
go off and serve that great King of Spain, very illustrious 
and noble remunerator of services rendered to him, not com- 
pelling his servitors to importune him, but done of liis own 
free will and wise opinion, and out of just cousideration. 
Whereupon I reflected and ruminated within myself that I 
was able to serve him well ; for there is not a harbour nor 
a seaport from Picardy to Bayonne that I do not know per- 
fectly, except those of Bretagne which I have not seen ; and 
I know equally well all the weak spots on the coast of Lan- 
guedoc from Grasse to Provence. To make myself sure of 
my facts, I had recently made a new tour to several of the 
towns, pretending to wish to arm a ship and send it on a 
voyage, or go myself. In fact, I had played my game so 
well that I had discovered half a dozen towns on these 
coasts easy to capture on their weak sides, which I knew 
then and which I stiU know. I therefore thought I could 
serve the King of Spain in these directions so well that I 
misrht count on obtainincr the reward of great wealth and 
dignities. But before I banished myself from France I 
proposed to sell my estates and put the money in a bank of 
Spain or Italy. I also proposed, and I discoursed of it to 
the Comte de La Eochefoucauld, to ask leave of absence 
from the king that I might not be called a deserter, and to 
be relieved of my oath as a subject in order to go wherever 
I should find myself better off than in his kingdom. I be- 
lieve he could not have refused my request ; because every- 


one is free to change his country and choose another. But 
however that might be, if he had refused me I should have 
gone all the same, neither more nor less like a valet who is 
angry with his master and wants to leave him ; if the latter 
will not give him leave to go, it is not reprehensible to take 
it and attach himself to another master." 

Thus reasoned Brantome. He returns on several occa- 
sions to these lawless opinions; he argues, apropos of the 
Conn^table de Bourbon and La None, against the scruples 
of those who are willing to leave their country, but not to 
take up arms against her. " I'faith ! " he cries, " here are 
fine, scrupulous philosophers ! Their quartan fevers ! WliHe 
I hold shyly back, pray who will feed me ? Whereas if I 
bare my sword to the wind it will give me food and magnify 
my fame." 

Such ideas were current in those days among the nobles, 
in whom the patriotic sentiment, long subordinated to that of 
caste, was only developed later. These projects of treachery 
should therefore not be judged altogether with the severity 
of modern ideas. Besides, Brantome is working himself 
up ; it does not belong to every one to produce such grand 
disasters as these he meditates. Moreover, thought is far 
from action; events may intervene. People call them fate 
or chance, but chance will often simply aid the secret im- 
pulses of conscience, and bind our will to that it chooses. 

" Fine human schemes I made ! " BrantSme resumes. " On 
the very point of their accomplishment the war of the 
League broke out and turmoiled things in such a way that 
no one would buy lands, for every man had trouble enough 
to keep what he owned, neither would he strip himself of 
money. Those who had promised to buy my property ex- 
cused themselves. To go to foreign parts without resources 
was madness, — it would only have exposed me to all sorts 



of misery ; I had too mucli experience to commit that folly. 
To complete the destruction of my designs, one day, at the 
height of my vigor and joUity, a miserable horse, whose 
white skin might have warned me of nothing good, reared 
and fell over upon me breaking and crushing my loins, so 
that for four years I lay in my bed, maimed, impotent in 
every limb, unable to turn or move without torture and all 
the agony in the world ; and since then my health has never 
been what it once was. Thus man proposes, and God dis- 
poses. God does all things for the best ! It is possible that 
if I had reahzed my plans I should have done more harm 
to my country than the renegade of Algiers did to his ; and 
because of it, I might have been perpetually cursed of God 
and man." 

Consequently, this great scheme remained a dream; no 
one need ever have known anything about it if Brantome 
himself had not taken pains to inform us of it with much 

The cruel fall which stopped his guilty projects must have 
occurred in 1585. At the end of three years and a half of 
suffering he met, he tells us, " with a very great personage 
and operator, called M. Saint- Christophe, whom God raised 
up for my good and cure, who succeeded in relieving me 
after many other doctors had failed." As soon as he was 
nearly well he began once more to travel. It does not appear 
that he frequented the Court after the death of Catherine de' 
Medici, which took place in January, 1589 ; but he was 
present, in that year, at the baptism of the posthumous son 
of Henri de Guise, whom the Parisians adopted after the 
father's murder at Blois, and named Paris. Agrippa dAu- 
bign^, in his caricature of the Procession of the League, gives 
Brantome a small place as bearer of beUs. But was he really 
there ? It seems doubtful ; he makes somewhere the judicious 


reflection that : " One may well be surprised that so many 
French nobles put themselves on the side of the League, for 
if it had got the upper hand it is very certain that the clergy 
would have deprived them of church property and wiped 
their lips forever of it, which result would have cut the 
wings of their extravagance for a very long while." The 
secular Abb^ de Brantome had therefore as good reasons for 
not being a Leaguer as for not being a Huguenot. 

In 1590 he went to make his obeisance to Marguerite, 
Queen of Navarre, then confined in the Chateau d'Usson in 
Auvergne. He presented to her his " discourse " on " Spanish 
Ehodomontades," perhaps also a first copy of the hfe of that 
princess (which appears in this volume), and he also showed 
her the titles of the other books he had composed. He was 
so enchanted with the greeting Queen Marguerite, la Eeine 
Margot, gave him, " the sole remaining daughter of the noble 
house of France, the most beautiful, most noble, grandest, 
most generous, most magnanimous, and most accompKshed 
princess in the world" (when Brant6me praises he does 
not do it by halves), that he promised to dedicate to her 
the entire collection of his works, — a promise he faithfully 

His health, now decidedly affected, confined more and 
more to his own home this indefatigable rover, who had, as 
he said, " the nature of a minstrel who prefers the house of 
others to his own," Condemned to a sedentary life, he used 
his activity as he could. He caused to be built the noble 
castle of Eichemont, with much pains and at great expense. 
He grew quarrelsome and Htigious ; brought suits against his 
relations, against his neighbours, against his monks, whom 
he accused of ingratitude. By his will he bequeathed his 
lawsuits to his heirs, and forbade each and all to compromise 


Difficult to live with, soured, dissatisfied with the world, 
he was not, it would seem, in easy circumstances. He did 
not spare posterity the recital of his plaints : " Favours, gran- 
deurs, boasts, and vanities, all the pleasant things of the good 
old days are gone like the wind. Nothing remains to me but 
to have been all that ; sometimes that memory pleases me, 
and sometimes it vexes me. Nearing a decrepit old age, the 
worst of all woes, nearing, too, a poverty which cannot be 
cured as in our flourishing years when nought is impossible, 
repenting me a hundred thousand times for the fine extrava- 
gances I committed in other days, and regretting I did not 
save enough then to support me now in feeble age, when I 
lack all of which I once possessed too much, — I see, with a 
bursting heart, an infinite number of paltry fellows raised to 
rank and riches, while Fortune, treacherous and blind that 
she is, feeds me on air and then deserts and mocks me. If 
she would only put me quickly into the hands of death I 
would still forgive her the wrongs she has done me. But 
there is the worst of it ; we can neither live nor die as we 
wish. Therefore, let destiny do as it will, never shall I cease 
to curse it from heart and lip. And worst of all do I detest 
old age weighed down by poverty. As the queen-mother 
said to me one day when I had the honour to speak to her 
on this subject about another person, ' Old age brings us 
inconveniences enough without the additional burden of 
poverty; the two united are the height of misery, against 
which there is one only sovereign cure, and that is death. 
Happy he who finds it when he reaches fifty-six, for after 
that our life is but labour and sorrow, and we eat but the 
bread of ashes, as saith the prophet.'" 

He continued, however, to write, retracing all that he had 
seen and garnered either while making his campaigns with 
the great captains of his time, or in gossiping with idle gen- 


tlemen in the halls of the Louvre. It was thus he composed 
his biographical and anecdotical volumes, which he retouched 
and rewrote at intervals, making several successive copies. 
That he had the future of his writings much at heart, m spite 
of a scornful air of indifference which he sometimes assumed, 
appears very plainly from the following clause in his will : 

" I will," he says, " and I expressly charge my heirs to 
cause to be printed my Books, which I have composed from 
my mind and invention with great toil and trouble, written 
by my hand, and transcribed clearly by that of Mataud, my 
hired secretary; the which will be found in five volumes 
covered with velvet, black, tan, green, blue, and a large vol- 
ume, which is that of ' The Ladies,' covered with green velvet, 
and another covered with vellum and gilded thereon, which is 
that of 'The Ehodomontades.' They will be found in one 
of my wicker trunks, carefully protected. Fine things will 
be found in them, such as tales, discourses, histories, and witti- 
cisms ; which no one can disdain, it seems to me, if once they 
are placed imder his nose and eyes. In order to have them 
printed according to my fancy, I charge with that purpose 
Madame la Comtesse de Duretal, my dear niece, or some 
other person she may choose. And to do this I order that 
enough be taken from my whole property to pay the costs of 
the said printing, and my heirs are not to divide or use my 
property until this printing is provided for. It is not probable 
that it will cost much ; for the printers, when they cast their 
eyes upon the books, would pay to print them instead of 
exacting money ; for they do print many gratis that are not 
worth as much as mine. I can boast of this; for I have 
shown them, at least in part, to several among that trade, 
who offered to print them for nothing. But I do not choose 
that they be printed during my life. Above all, I wiU that 
the said printing be in fine, large letters, in a great volume to 


make the better show, with license from the king, who will 
give it readily ; or without license, if that can be. Care 
must also be taken that the printer does not put on another 
name than mine ; otherwise I shall be frustrated of all my 
trouble and of the fame that is my due. I also will that the 
first book that issues from the press shall be given as a gift, 
well bound and covered in velvet, to Queen Marguerite, my 
very illustrious mistress, who did me the honour to read 
some of my writings, and who thought them fine and 
esteemed them." 

This wiU was made about the year 1609. On the 15th of 
July, 1614, Brantome died, after living his last years in com- 
plete obHvion ; he was buried, according to his wishes, in the 
chapel of his chateau of Eichemont. In spite of his ex- 
press directions, neither the Comtesse de Duretal nor any 
other of his heirs executed the clause in his will relating to 
the publication of his works. Possibly they feared it might 
create some scandal, or it may be that they could not obtain 
the royal license. The manuscripts remained in the chateau 
of Eichemont. Little by little, as time went on, they at- 
tracted attention ; copies were made which found their way 
to the cabinets and libraries of collectors. They were finally 
printed in Holland ; and the first volume, which appeared 
in Leyden from the press of Jean Sambix the younger, sold 
by F. Foppous, Brussels, 1665, was that which here follows: 
" The Book of the Ladies," called by the pubhsher, not by 
Brantome, " Lives of Illustrious Dames." 

It is not easy to distinguish the exact periods at which 
Brantome wrote his works. " The Book of the Ladies," first 
and second parts, — Dames Ulustres and Dames Galantes, — 
were evidently the first written ; then followed " The Lives 
of Great and Illustrious French Captains," " Lives of Great 
Foreign Captains," " Anecdotes concerning Duels," " The 


Ehodomontades," and " Spanish Oaths." Brantome did not 
write his Memoirs, properly so-called ; his biographical facts 
and incidents are scattered throughout the above-named 

The following translation of the " Book of the Ladies " 
does not pretend to imitate Brantome's style. To do so 
would seem an affectation in English, and attract attention 
to itself which it is always desirable to avoid in translating. 
Wherever a few of Brantome's quaint turns of phrase are 
given, it is only as they fall naturally into Enghsh. 




Inasmuch as I must speak of ladies, I do not choose to 
speak of former dames, of whom the histories are full ; that 
would he blotting paper in vain, for enough has been written 
about them, and even the great Boccaccio has made a fine 
book solely on that subject [De claris mulierihus]. 

I shall begia therefore with our queen, Anne de Bretagne, 
the most worthy and honourable queen that has ever been 
since Queen Blanche, mother of the King Saint-Louis, and 
very sage and virtuous. 

This Queen Anne was the rich heiress of the duchy of 
Bretagne, which was held to be one of the finest of Christen- 
dom, and for that reason she was sought in marriage by 
the greatest persons. M. le Due d'Orldans, afterwards King 
, Louis XII., in his young days courted her, and did for her 
sake his fine feats of arms in Bretagne, and even at the 
battle of Saint Aubia, where he was taken prisoner fighting 
on foot at the head of his infantry. I have heard say that 
this capture was the reason why he did not espouse her then ; 
for thereon intervened Maximilian, Duke of Austria, since 
emperor, who married her by the proxy of his uncle the 
Prince of Orange in the great church at Nantes. But King 
Charles VIIL, having advised with his coimcil that it was 


not good to have so powerful a seigneur encroacli and get 
a footing in his kingdom, broke off a marriage that had been 
settled between himself and Marguerite of Flanders, took 
the said Anne from Maximilian, her affianced, and wedded 
her himself; so that every one conjectured thereon that a 
marriage thus made would be luckless in issue. 

Now if Anne was desired for her property, she was as 
much so for her virtues and merits ; for she was beautiful 
and agreeable ; as I have heard say by elderly persons who 
knew her, and according to her portrait, which I have seen 
from life ; resembling in face the beautiful Demoiselle de 
Chateauneuf, who has been so renowned at the Court for her 
beauty ; and that is sufficient to tell the beauty of Queen 
Anne as I have heard it portrayed to the queen mother 
[Catherine de' Medici]. 

Her figure was fine and of medium height. It is true that 
one foot was shorter than the other the least in the world ; 
but this was little perceived, and hardly to be noticed, so that 
her beauty was not at all spoilt by it ; for I myself have seen 
very handsome women with that defect who yet were ex- 
treme in beauty, hke Mme. la Princesse de Cond^, of the 
house of LonCTueville. 

So much for the beauty of the body of this queen. That 
of her mind was no less, because she was very virtuous, wise, 
honourable, pleasant of speech, and very charming and sub- 
tile in wit. She had been taught and trained by Mme. de 
Laval, an able and accomplished lady, appointed her gov- 
erness by her father. Due Frangois. For the rest, she was 
very kind, very merciful, and very charitable, as I have heard 
my own folks say. True it is, however, that she was quick 
in vengeance and seldom pardoned whoever offended her 
maliciously ; as she showed to the Mardchal de Gi^ for the 
affront he put upon her when the king, her lord and husband, 


lay ill at Blois and was held to be dying. She, wishing to 
provide for her wants in case she became a widow, caused 
three or four boats to be laden on the Eiver Loire with all 
her precious articles, furniture, jewels, rings and money, — 
and sent them to her city and chateau of ISTantes. The said 
marshal, meeting these boats between Saumur and Nantes, 
ordered them stopped and seized, being much too wishful to 
play the good officer and servant of the Crown. But fortune 
willed that the king, through the prayers of his people, to 
whom he was indeed a true father, escaped with his life. 
The queen, in spite of this luck, did not abstain from her 
vengeance, and having well brewed it, she caused the said 
marshal to be driven from Court. It was then that having 
finished a fine house at La Verger, he retired there, saying 
that the rain had come just in time to let him get under 
shelter in the beautiful house so recently built. But this 
banishment from Court was not all ; through great researches 
which she caused to be made wherever he had been in com- 
mand, it was discovered he had committed great wrongs, 
extortions and pillages, to which all governors are given ; so 
that the marshal, having appealed to the courts of parliament, 
was summoned before that of Toulouse, which had long been 
very just and equitable, and not corrupt. There, his suit 
being viewed, he was convicted. But the queen did not wish 
his death, because, she said, death is a cure for all pains and 
woes, and being dead he would be too happy ; she wished 
him to live as degraded and low as he had been great ; so 
that he might, from the grandeur and height where he had 
been, live miserably in troubles, pains, and sadness, which 
would do him a hundred-fold more harm than death, for 
death lasted only a day, and mayhap only an hour, whereas 
his languishing would make him die daily. 

Such was the vengeance of this brave queen. One day she 


was so angry against M. d'Orl^ans that she could not for a 
long time be appeased. It was in this wise : the death of her 
son, M. le dauphin, having happened, King Charles, her hus- 
band, and she were in such despair that the doctors, fearing 
the debility and feeble constitution of the king, were alarmed 
lest such grief should do injury to his health; so they coun- 
selled the king to amuse himself, and the princes of the 
Court to invent new pastimes, games, dances, and mum- 
meries in order to give pleasure to the king and queen ; the 
which M. d'Orldans having undertaken, he gave at the 
Chateau d'Amboise a masquerade and dance, at which he did 
such follies and danced so gayly, as was told and read, that 
the queen, believing he felt this glee because, the dauphin 
being dead, he knew himself nearer to be King of France, 
was extremely angered, and showed him such displeasure that 
he was forced to escape from Amboise, where the Court then 
was, and go to his chtiteau of Blois. Nothing can be blamed 
in this queen except the sin of vengeance, — if vengeance is a 
sin, — because otherwise she was beautiful and gentle, and had 
many very laiidable sides. 

When the king, her husband, went to the kingdom of 
Naples [1494], and so long as he was there, she knew very 
well how to govern the kingdom of France with those whom 
the king had given to assist her ; but she always kept her 
rank, her grandeur, and supremacy, and insisted, young as she 
was, on being trusted ; and she made herself trusted, so that 
nothmg was ever found to say against her. 

She felt great regret for the death of King Charles [in 
1498], as much for the friendship she bore him as for seeing 
herself henceforth but half a queen, having no children. 
And when her most intimate ladies, as I have been told on 
good authority, pitied her for being the widow of so great a 
king, and unable to return to her high estate, — for King 


Louis [the Due d'Orl^ans, her first lover] was then married 
to Jeanne de France, — she replied she would " rather he the 
widow of a king; all her life than debase herself to a less than 
he ; but still, she was not so despairing of happiness that she 
did not think of again being Queen of France, as she had been, 
if she chose." Her old love made her say so ; she meant to 
relight it in the bosom of him in whom it was yet warm. 
And so it happened ; for King Louis [XIL], having repudi- 
ated Jeanne, his wife, and never having lost his early love, 
took her ia marriage, as we have seen and read. So here was 
her prophecy accomplished ; she having founded it on the 
nature of King Louis, who could not keep himself from lov- 
ing her, all married as she was, but looked with a tender eye 
upon her, being still Due d'Orleans; for it is difficult to 
quench a great fire when once it has seized the soul. 

He was a handsome prince and very amiable, and she did 
not hate him for that. Having taken her, he honoured her 
much, leaving her to enjoy her property and her duchy with- 
out touching it himself or taking a single louis ; but she 
employed it well, for she was very liberal. And because 
the king made immense gifts, to meet which he must have 
levied on his people, which he shunned like the plague, she 
supplied his deficiencies ; and there were no great captains 
of the kingdom to whom she did not give pensions, or make 
extraordinary presents of money or of thick gold chains 
when they went upon a journey ; and she even made little 
presents according to quality ; everybody ran to her, and 
few came away discontented. Above all, she had the reputa- 
tion of loving her domestic servants, and to them she did 
great good. 

She was the first queen to hold a great Court of ladies, 
such as we have seen from her time to the present day. 
Her suite was very large of ladies and young girls, for she 


refused none ; she even inquired of the noblemen of her 
Court whether they had daughters, and what they were, and 
asked to have them brought to her. I had an aunt de 
Bourdeille who had the honour of being brought up by her 
[Louise de Bourdeille, maid of honour to Queen Anne in 
1494] ; but she died at Court, aged fifteen years, and was 
buried behind the great altar of the church of the Fran- 
ciscans in Paris. I saw the tomb and its inscription before 
that church was burned [in 1580.] 

Queen .Anne's Court was a noble school for ladies ; she 
had them taught and brought up wisely; and all, taking 
pattern by her, made themselves wise and virtuous. Be- 
cause her heart was great and lofty she wanted guards, and 
so formed a second band of a hundred gentlemen, — for 
hitherto there was only one; and the greater part of the 
said new guard were Bretons, who never failed, when she 
left her room to go to mass or to promenade, to await her 
on that little terrace at Blois, still called the Breton perch, 
"La Perche aux Bretons," she herself having named it so 
by saying when she saw them : " Here are my Bretons on 
their perch, awaiting me." 

You may be sure that she did not lay by her money, but 
employed it well on all high things. 

She it was, who built, out of great superbness, that fine 
vessel and mass of wood, called " La Cordelifere," which at- 
tacked so furiously in mid-ocean the " Eegent of England," 
grappling to her so closely that both were burned and noth- 
ing escaped, — not the people, nor anything else that was in 
them, so that no news was ever heard of them on land ; 
which troubled the queen very much.^ 

The king honoured her so much that one day, it being 
reported to him that the law clerks at the Palais [de Justice] 

1 See Appendix. 


and the students also were playing games in which there 
was talk of the king, his Court, and all the great people, 
he took no other notice than to say they needed a pastime, 
and he would let them talk of him and his Court, though 
not licentiously ; but as for the queen, his wife, they should 
not speak of her in any way whatsoever ; if they did he 
would have them hanged. Such was the honour he bore 

Moreover, there never came to his Court a foreign prince 
or an ambassador that, after having seen and listened to 
them, he did not send them to pay their reverence to the 
queen ; wishiag the same respect to be shown to her as to 
him ; and also, because he recognized in her a great faculty 
for entertaining and pleasing great personages, as, indeed, 
she knew well how to do ; taking much pleasure in it her- 
self ; for she had very good and fine grace and majesty in 
greeting them, and beautiful eloquence in talking with them. 
Sometimes, amid her French speech, she would, to make 
herself more admired, mingle a few foreign words, which 
she had learned from M. de Grignaux, her chevalier of 
honour, who was a very gallant man who had seen the 
world, and was accomplished and knew foreign languages, 
being thereby very pleasant good company, and agree- 
able to meet. Thus it was that one day. Queen Anne 
having asked him to teach her a few words of Spanish to 
say to the Spanish ambassador, he taught her in joke a little 
indecency, which she quickly learned. The next day, while 
awaiting the ambassador, M. de Grignaux told the story to 
the king, who thought it good, understanding his gay and 
lively humour. Nevertheless he went to the queen, and 
told her all, warning her to be careful not to use those 
words. She was in such great anger, though the king only 
laughed, that she wanted to dismiss M. de Grignaux, and 


showed him her displeasure for several days. But M. de 
Grignaux made her such humble excuses, telhng her that 
he only did it to make the king laugh and pass liis time 
merrily, and that he was not so ill-advised as to fail to warn 
the king in time that he might, as he really did, warn her 
before the arrival of the ambassador ; so that on these ex- 
cuses and the entreaties of the king she was pacified. 

Now, if the king loved and honoured her Hving, we may 
believe that, she being dead, he did the same. And to mani- 
fest the mourning that he felt, the superb and honourable 
funeral and obsequies that he ordered for her are proof ; the 
which I have read of in an old " History of France " that I 
found lying about in a closet in our house, nobody caring for 
it ; and having gathered it up, I looked at it. Now as this 
is a matter that should be noted, I shall put it here, word 
for word as the book says, without changing anything ; for 
though it is old, the language is not very bad ; and as for 
the truth of the book, it has been confirmed to me by 
my grandmother, Mme. la Seneschale de Poitou, of the 
family du Lude, who was then at the Court. The book re- 
lates it thus : — • 

" This queen was an honourable and virtuous queen, and 
very wise, the true mother of the poor, the support of gentle- 
men, the haven of ladies, damoiselles, and honest girls, and 
the refuge of learned men ; so that all the people of France 
cannot surfeit themselves enough in deploring and regretting 

"She died at the castle of Blois on the twenty-first of 
January, in the year 1513, after the accomphshment of a 
thing she had most desired, namely : the union of the king, 
her lord, with the pope and the Eoman Church, abhorring as 
she did schism and divisions. For that reason she had never 
ceased urging the king to this step, for which she was as 


much loved and greatly revered by the CathoHc prmces and 
prelates as the king had been hated. 

" I have seen at Saint-Denis a grand church cope, all cov- 
ered with pearls embroidered, which she had ordered to be 
made expressly to send as a present to the pope, but death 
prevented. After her decease her body remained for three 
days in her room, the face uncovered, and nowise changed by 
hideous death, but as beautiful and agreeable as when hving. 

" Friday, the twenty-seventh of the month of January, her 
body was taken from the castle, very honourably accompanied 
by all the priests and monks of the town, borne by persons 
wearing mourning, with hoods over their heads, accompanied 
by twenty-four torches larger than the other torches borne 
by twenty-four officers of the household of the said lady, 
on each of which were two rich armorial escutcheons bear- 
ing the arms emblazoned of the said lady. After these 
torches came the reverend seigneurs and prelates, bishops, 
abbfe, and M. le Cardinal de Luxembourg to read the office ; 
and thus was removed the body of the said lady from the 
Chateau de Blois. . . . 

" Septuagesima Sunday, twelfth of February, they arrived 
at the church of Notre-Dame des Champs in the suburbs of 
Paris, and there the body was guarded two nights with great 
quantities of lights ; and on the following Tuesday, the devout 
services having been read, there marched before the body 
processions with the crosses of all the churches and all the 
monasteries of Paris, the whole University in a body, the 
presidents and counsellors of the sovereign court of Parlia- 
ment, and generally of all other courts and jurisdictions, 
officers and advocates, merchants and citizens, and other 
lesser officers of the town. All these accompanied the said 
body reverentially, with the very noble seigneurs and ladies 
aforenamed, just as they started from Blois, all keeping fine 



order among themselves according to their several ranks, . . . 
And thus was borne through Paris, in the order and manner 
above, the body of the queen to be sepulchred in the pious 
church of Saint-Denis of France ; preceded by these pro- 
cessions to a cross which is not far beyond the place where 
the fair of Landit is held, 

"And to the spot where stands the cross the reverend 
father in God, the abb^ and the venerable monks, with the 
priests of the churches and parishes of Saint-Denis, vestured 
in their great copes, with their crosses, came in procession, 
together with the peasants and the inhabitants of the said 
town, to receive the body of the late queen, which was then 
borne to the door of the church of Saint-Denis, still accom- 
panied honourably by all the above-named very noble princes 
and princesses, seigneurs, dames, and damoiselles, and their 
train as already stated, . . . 

"And all being duly accomplished, the body of the said 
lady, Madame Anne, in her lifetime very noble Queen of 
France, Duchesse of Bretagne, and Comtesse d'Etampes, was 
honourably interred and sepulchred in the tomb for her 

" After this, the herald-at-arms for Bretagne summoned all 
the princes and officers of the said lady, to wit : the chevalier 
of honour, the grand-master of the household, and others, 
each and all, to fulfil their duty towards the said body, which 
they did most piteously, shedding tears from their eyes. And, 
this done, the aforenamed king-at-arms cried three times 
aloud in a most piteous voice : ' The very Christian Queen of 
France, Duchesse de Bretagne, our Sovereign Lady, is dead ! ' 
And then all departed. The body remained entombed. 

" During her hfe and after her death she was honoured by 
the titles I have before given : true mother of the poor ; the 
comfort of noble gentlemen ; the haven of ladies and damoi- 




selles and honest girls ; the refuge of learned men and those 
of good lives ; so that speaking of her dead is only renewing 
the grief and regrets of all such persons, and also that of her 
domestic servants, whom she loved singularly. She was very 
relisious and devout. It was she who made the foundation 
of the ' Bons-Hommes ' [monastery of the order of Saint- 
!Fran§ois de Paule at Chaillot], otherwise called the Minimes ; 
and she began to build the church of the said ' Bons-Hommes ' 
near Paris, and afterwards that in Eome which is so beautiful 
and noble, and where, as I saw myself, they receive no monks 
but Frenchmen." 

There, word for word, are the splendid obsequies of this 
queen, without changing a word of the original, for fear of 
doing worse, — for I could not do better. They were just like 
those of our kings that I have heard and read of, and those 
of King Charles IX., at which I was present, and which the 
queen, his mother, desired to make so fine and magnificent, 
though the finances of France were then too short to spend 
much, because of the departure of the King of Poland, who 
with his suite had squandered and carried off a great deal 

Certainly I find these two interments much alike, save for 
three things: one, that the burial of Queen Anne was the 
most superb ; second, that all went so well in order and so 
discreetly that there was no contention of ranks, as occurred 
at the burial of King Charles ; for his body, being about to 
start for Notre-Dame, the court of parliament had some 
pique of precedence with the nobility and the Church, claim- 
ing to stand in the place of the king and to represent him 
when absent, he being then out of the kingdom. [Henri III. 
was then King of Poland]. On which a great prmcess, as 
the world goes, who was very near to him, whom I know 
but will not name, went about arguing and saying : " It was 


no wonder if, during the lifetime of the king, seditions and 
troubles had been in vogue, seeing that, dead as he was, he 
was still able to stir up strife." Alas ! he never did it, poor 
prince ! either dead or living. We know well who were the 
authors of the seditions and of our civil wars. That princess 
who said those words has since found reason to regret 

The third thing is that the body of King Charles was 
quitted, at the church of Saint-Lazare, by the whole pro- 
cession, princes, seigneurs, courts of parliament, the Church, 
and the citizens, and was followed and accompanied from 
there by none but poor M. de Strozzi, de Fumel, and myself, 
with two gentlemen of the bedchamber, for we were not 
willingr to abandon our master as lon» as he was above 
ground. There were also a few archers of the guard, quite 
pitiable to see, in the fields. So at eight in the evening in. 
the month of July, we started with the body and its effigy 
thus badly accompanied. 

Beaching the cross, we found all the monks of Saint- 
Denis awaiting us, and the body of the king was honourably 
escorted, with the ceremonies of the Church, to Saint-Denis, 
where the great Cardinal de Lorraine received it most honour- 
ably and devoutly, as he knew well, how to do. 

The queen-mother was very angry that the procession did 
not continue to the end as she intended — save for Monsieur 
her son, and the King of Navarre, whom she held a prisoner. 
The next day, however, the latter arrived in a coach, with 
a very good guard, and captains of the guard with him, to 
be present at the solemn high service, attended by the 
whole procession and company as at first, — a sight very sad 
to see. 

After dinner the court of parliament sent to tell and to 
command the grand almoner Amyot to go and say grace 


after meat for them as if for the king. To which he made 
answer that he should do nothing of the kind, for it was 
not before them he was bound to do it. They sent him 
two consecutive and threatening commands ; which he still 
refused, and went and hid himself that he might answer 
no more. Then they swore they would not leave the table 
till he came; but not being able to find him, they were 
constrained to say grace themselves and to rise, which they 
did with great threats, foully abusing the said almoner, even 
to calling him scoundrel, and son of a butcher. I saw the 
whole affair; and I know what Monsieur commanded me 
to go and tell to M. le cardinal, asking him to pacify the mat- 
ter, because they had sent commands to Monsieur to send 
to them, as representatives of the king, the grand almoner 
if he could be found. M. le cardinal went to speak to them, 
but he gained nothing ; they standing firm on their opinion 
of their royal majesty and authority. I know what M. le 
cardinal said to me about them, telling me not to say it, — 
that they were perfect fools. The chief president, de Thou, 
was then at their head ; a great senator certainly, but he had 
a temper. So here was another disturbance to make that 
princess say again that King Charles, either living or dead, 
on earth or under it, that body of his stirred up the world 
and threw it into sedition. Alas ! that he could not do. 

I have told this little incident, possibly more at length than 
I should, and I may be blamed; but I reply that I have 
told and put it here as it came into my fancy and memory ; 
also that it comes in ^ propos ; and that I cannot forget it, 
for it seems to me a thing that is rather remarkable. 

Now, to return to our Queen Anne : we see from this fine 
last duty of her obsequies how beloved she was of earth and 
heaven ; far otherwise than that proud, pompous queen, Isa- 
bella of Bavaria, wife of the late King Charles VI., who 


having died in Paris, her body was so despised it was put 
out of her palace into a little boat on the river Seine, with- 
out form of ceremony or pomp, being carried through a 
little postern so narrow it could hardly go through, and 
thus was taken to Saint-Denis to her tomb like a simple 
damoiselle, neither more nor less. There was also a differ- 
ence between her actions and those of Queen Anne : for she 
brought the English into France and Paris, threw the king- 
dom into flames and divisions, and impoverished and ruined 
every one ; whereas Queen Anne kept France in peace, en- 
larged and enriched it with her beautiful duchy and the fine 
property she brought with her. So one need not wonder 
that the king regretted her and felt such mourning that he 
came nigh dying in the forest of Vincennes, and clothed 
himself and all his Court so long in black ; and those who 
came otherwise clothed he had them driven away ; neither 
would he see any ambassador, no matter who he was, unless 
he were dressed in black. And, moreover, that old History 
which I have quoted, says : " When he gave his daughter to 
M. d'Angouleme, afterwards King Frangois, mourning was 
not left off by him or his Court ; and the day of the espousals 
in the church of Saint-Germ ain-en-Laye, the bridegroom and 
bride were vestured and clothed " — so this History says — 
" in black cloth, honestly cut in mourning shape, for the death 
of the said queen, Madame Anne de Bretagne, mother of 
the bride, in presence of the king, her father, accompanied 
by the princes of the blood and noble seigneurs and prel- 
ates, princesses, dames, and damoiselles, all clothed in black 
cloth made in mourning shape." That is what the book 
says. It was a strange austerity of mourning which should 
be noted, that not even on the day of the wedding was it 
dispensed with, to be renewed on the following day. 

From this we may know how beloved, and worthy to be 


■beloved this princess was by the king, her husband, who 
sometimes in his merry moods and gayety would call her 
"his Breton." 

If she had lived longer she would never have consented 
to that marriage of her daughter ; it was very repugnant to 
her and she said so to the king, her husband, for she mor- 
tally hated Madame d'Angouleme, afterwards Eegent, their 
tempers being quite unlike and not agreeing together ; be- 
sides which, she had wished to unite her said daughter to 
Charles of Austria, then young, the greatest seigneur of 
Christendom, who was afterwards emperor. And this she 
wished in spite of M. d'Angouleme coming very near the 
Crown ; but she never thought of that, or would not think 
of it, trusting to have more children herself, she being only 
thirty-seven years old when she died. In her lifetime and 
reign, reigned also that great and wise queen, Isabella of 
Castile, very accordant in manners and morals with our 
Queen Anne. For which reason they loved each other 
much and visited one another often by embassies, letters, 
and presents; 'tis thus that virtue ever seeks out virtue. 

King Louis was afterwards pleased to marry for the third 
time Marie, sister of the King of England, a very beautiful 
princess, young, and too young for him, so that evil came of 
it. But he married more from poHcy, to make peace with 
the English and to put his own kingdom at rest, than for 
any other reason, never being able to forget his Queen Anne. 
He commanded at his death that they should both be covered 
by the same tomb, just as we now see it in Saint-Denis, all in 
white marble, as beautiful and superb as never was. 

Now, here I pause in my discourse and go no farther; 
referring the rest to books that are written of this queen 
better than I could write ; only to content my own self have 
I made this discourse. 


I will say one other little thing ; that she was the first of 
our queens or princesses to form the usage of putting a belt 
round their arms and escutcheons, which until then were 
borne not inclosed, but quite loose ; and the said queen was 
the first to put the belt. 

I say no more, not having been of her time ; although I 
protest having told only truth, having learned it, as I have 
said, from a book, and also from Mme. la Seneschale, my 
grandmother, and from Mme. de Dampierre, my aunt, a true 
Court register, and as clever, wise, and virtuous a lady as ever 
entered a Court these hundred years, and who knew well how 
to discourse on old things. From eight years of age she was 
brought up at Court, and forgot nothing ; it was good to hear 
her talk ; and I have seen our kings and queens take a singu- 
lar pleasure in listening to her, for she knew all, — her own 
time and past times ; so that people took word from her as 
from an oracle. King Henri III. made her lady of honour 
to the queen, his wife. I have here used recollections and 
lessons that I obtained from her, and I hope to use many 
more in the course of these books. 

I have read the epitaph of the said queen, thus made : — 

" Here lies Anne, who was wife to two great kings, 
Great a hundred-fold herself, as queen two times ! 
Never queen like her enriched all France ; 
That is what it is to make a grand alliance." 

Gui Patin, satirist and jovial spirit of his time [he was 
born in 1601], attracted to Saint-Denis because a fair was 
held there, visits the abbey, the treasury, " where " he says, 
" there was plenty of silly stuff and rubbish," and lastly the 
tombs of the kings, " where I could not keep myself from 
weeping to see so many monuments to the vanity of human 


life ; tears escaped me also before the tomb of the great and 
good king, Frangois I., who founded our College of Professors 
of the King. I must own my weakness ; I kissed it, and 
also that of his father-in-law, Louis XII., who was the Father 
of his People, and the best king we have ever had in France." 
Happy age ! still neighbour to behefs, when those reputed 
the greatest satirists had these touching naivetes, these 
wholly patriotic and antique sensibihties. 

Mdzeray [born ten years later], in his natural, sincere and 
expressive diction, his clear and full narration, into which he 
has the art to bring speaking circumstances which animate 
the tale, says in relation to Louis XII. [in his " History of 
France "] ; "When he rode through the country the good folk 
ran from all parts and for many days to see him, strewing 
the roads with flowers and foKage, and striving, as though he 
were a visible God, to touch his saddle with their handker- 
chiefs and keep them as precious rehcs." 

And two centuries later, Comte Eoederer, in his Memoir 
on Polite Society and the Hotel de Eambouillet, printed 
in 1835, tells us how in his youth his mind was already busy 
with Louis XIL, and, returning to the same interest in after 
years, he made him his hero of predilection and his king. 
In studying the history of France he thought he discov- 
ered, he says, that at the close of the fifteenth century and 
the beginning of the sixteenth what has since been called the 
" French Eevolution " was already consummated ; that hberty 
rested on a free Constitution ; and that Louis XIL, the 
Father of his People, was he who had accomplished it. 
Bonhomie and goodness have never been denied to Louis XIL, 
but Ecederer claims more, he claims ability and skill. The 
Itahan wars, considered generally to have been mistakes, he 
excuses and justifies by showing them in the king's mind as 
a means of useful national policy ; he needed to obtain from 


Pope Alexander VI. the dissolution of his marriage with 
Jeanne de France, in order that he might marry Anne de 
Bretagne and so unite the duchy with the kingdom. Eoederer 
makes King Louis a type of perfection ; seeming to have 
searched in regions far from those that are historically bril- 
liant, far from spheres of fame and glory, into " the depths 
obscure," as he says himself, " of useful government for a 
hero of a new species." 

More than that : he thinks he sees in the cherished wife 
of Louis XIL, in Anne de Bretagne, the foundress of a school 
of polite manners and perfection for her sex. " She was," 
Brantome had said, " the most worthy and honourable queen 
that had ever been since Queen Blanche, mother of the King 
Saint-Louis. . . . Her Court was a noble school for ladies ; 
she had them taught and brought up wisely ; and all, 
taking pattern by her, made themselves wise and virtuous." 
Ecederer takes these words of Brantome and, giving them 
their strict meaning, draws therefrom a series of conse- 
quences : just as Francois I. had, in many respects, over- 
thrown the political state of things estabhshed by Louis XIL, 
so, he believes, had the women beloved of Francois over- 
turned that honourable condition of society established by 
Anne de Bretagne. Starting from that epoch he sees, as it 
were, a constant struggle between two sorts of rival and 
incompatible societies: between the decent and ingenuous 
society of which Anne de Bretagne had given the idea, and 
the licentious society of which the mistresses of the king, 
women like the Duchesse d'Etampes and Diane de Poitiers, 
procured the triumph. These two societies, to his mind, 
never ceased to co-exist during the sixteenth century ; on 
the one hand was an emulation of virtue and merit on the 
part of the noble heiresses, alas, too eclipsed, of Anne de 
Bretagne, on the other an emulation with high bidding of 


gallantry, by the giddy pupils of the school of Francois I. 
To Koederer the Hotel de Kambouillet, that perfected salon, 
founded towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
is only a tardy return to the traditions of Anne de Bretagne, 
the triumph of merit, virtue, and polite manners over the 
license to which all the kings, from Frangois I., including 
Henri IV., had paid tribute. 

Beaching thus the Hotel de Eambouillet and holding 
henceforth an unbroken thread in hand, Koederer divides and 
subdivides at pleasure. He marks the divers periods and the 
divers shades of transition, the growth and the decline that 
he discerns. The first years of Louis XIV.'s youth cause 
him some distress ; a return is being made to the ways of 
Frangois I., to ,the brilliant mistresses. Eoederer, not con- 
cerning himself with the displeasure he will cause the classi- 
cists, lays a little of the blame for this return on the four 
great poets, Mohfere, La Fontaine, Kacine, and Boileau himself, 
all accomplices, more or less, in the laudation of victor and 
lover. However, age comes on ; Louis XIV. grows temperate 
in turn, and a woman, issuing from the very purest centre of 
Mme. de Eambouillet's society, and who was morally its 
heiress, a woman accomphshed in tone, in cultivation of 
mind, in precision of language, and in the sentiment of pro- 
priety, — Mme. de Maintenon, — knows so well how to seize 
the opportunity that she seats upon the throne, in a modest 
half-hght, all the styles of mind and merit which made the 
perfection of French society in its better days. The triumph 
of Mme. de Maintenon is that of poHte society itself ; Anne 
de Bretagne has found her pendant at the other extremity of 
the chain after the lapse of two centuries. 

Sainte-Bexjve, Causeries du Lundi, Vol. VIII. 



I HAVE wondered and been astonished a hundred times 
that, so many good -writers as we have had in our day in 
France, none of them has been inquisitive enough to make 
some fine selection of the hfe and deeds of the queen-mother, 
Catherine de' Medici, inasmuch as she has furnished ample 
matter, and cut out much fine work, if ever a queen did — 
as said the Emperor Charles to Paolo Giovio [Italian histo- 
rian] when, on his return from his triumphant voyage in 
the " Goulette " intending to make war upon King Francois, 
he gave him a provision of ink and paper, saying he would 
cut him out plenty of work. So it is true that this queen 
cut out so much that a good and zealous writer might make 
an Iliad of it ; but they have aU been lazy, — or ungrateful, 
for she was never niggardly to learned men ; I could name 
several who have derived good benefits from this queen, from 
which, in consequence, I accuse them of ingratitude. 

There is one, however, who did concern himself to write 
of her, and made a little book which he entitled " The Life 
of Catherine ; " ^ but it is an imposture and not worthy of 
belief, as she herself said when she saw it; such falsities 
being apparent to every one, and easy to note and reject. 
He that wrote it wished her mortal harm, and was an enemy 
to her name, her condition, her life, her honour, and nature ; 
and that is why he should be rejected. As for me, I would 
1 See Appendix. 

y\ // /■///■ 


I knew how to speak well, or that I had a good pen, well 
mended, at my command, that I might exalt and praise her 
as she deserves. At any rate, such as my pen is, I shall now 
employ it at all hazards. 

This queen is extracted, on the father's side, from the race 
of the Medici, one of the noblest and most illustrious fami- 
hes, not only in Italy, but in Christendom. Whatever may 
be said, she was a foreigner to these shores because the 
aUiances of kings cannot commonly be chosen in their king- 
dom ; for it is not best to do so ; foreign marriages being as 
useful and more so than near ones. The House of the 
Medici has always been allied and confederated with the 
crown of France, which still bears the Jleur-de-lys that King 
Louis XI. gave that house in sign of alliance and perpetual 
confederation [the Jleur de Louis, wliich then became the 
Florentine lily]. 

On the mother's side she issued originally from one of the 
noblest families of France ; and so was truly French in race, 
heart, and afifection through that great house of Boulogne 
and county of Auvergne ; thus it is hard to tell or judge 
in which of her two families there was most grandeur and 
memorable deeds. Here is what was said of them by the 
Archbishop of Bourges, of the house of Beaune, as great a 
learned man and worthy prelate as there is in Christendom 
(though some say a trifle unsteady in belief, and little good in 
the scales of M. Saint-Michel, who weighs good Christians 
for the day of judgment, or so they say) : it is given in the 
funeral oration which the archbishop made upon the said 
queen at Blois : — 

" In the days when Brennus, that great captain of the 
Gauls, led his army throughout all Italy and Greece, there 
were with him in his troop two French nobles, one named 
Felsinus, the other named Bono, who, seeing the wicked 


design of Brennus, after his fine conquests, to invade the 
temple of Delplios and soil himself and Ms army with the 
sacrilege of that temple, withdrew, both of them, and passed 
into Asia with their vessels and men, advancing so far that 
they entered the sea of the Medes, which is near to Lydia 
and Persia. Thence, having made great conquests and ob- 
tained great victories, they were retiu-uiug through Italy, 
hoping to reach France, when Felsinus stopped at a place 
where Florence now stands beside the river Aruo, which he 
saw to be fine and delectable, and situated much as another 
which had pleased liim much in the coimtry of the Medes. 
There he bmlt a city which to-day is Florence ; and his com- 
panion. Bono, bunt another and named it Bononia, now called 
Bologna, the which are neighbouring cities. Henceforth, in 
consequence of the victories and conquests of Felsinus 
amoug the Medes, he was called Mcdicus among his friends, a 
name that remained to the family ; just as we read of Paulus 
siu'uamed Maccdonicus for haAiug conquered Macedonia from 
Perseus, and Scipio called Africanus for doiag the same in 

I do not know where M. de Beaune may have t^aken this 
history ; but it is very probable that before the king and 
such an assembly, there convened for the funeral of the 
queen, he would not have alleged the fact without good 
authority. This descent is very far fi-om the modern story 
invented and attributed without grounds to the family of 
Medici, according to that lying book which I have men- 
tioned on the life of the said queen. After this the said 
Sieiu- de Beaime says fiirther, he has read in the chronicles 
that one named Everard de' Medici, Sieur of Florence, went, 
with many of his subjects, to the assistance of the voyage 
and expedition made by Charlemagne against Desiderius, 
King of the Lombards ; and having very bravely succoured 


and assisted him, was confirmed and invested with the 
lordship of Florence. Many years after, one Anemond de' 
Medici, also Sieur of Florence, went, accompanied by many 
of his subjects, to the Holy Land, with Godefroy de Bouillon, 
where he died at the siege of Nic£ea in Asia. Such greatness 
always continued in that family until Florence was reduced 
to a republic by the intestine wars in Italy between the em- 
perors and the peoples, the illustrious members of it mani- 
festing their valour and grandeur from time to time ; as we 
saw in the latter days Cosmo de' Medici, who, with his arms, 
his navy, and vessels, terrified the Turks in the Mediterra- 
nean Sea and in the distant East; so that none since his 
time, however great he may be, has surpassed him in strength 
and valour and wealth, as Eaffaelle Volaterano has written. 

The temples and sacred shrines by him built, the hospitals 
by him founded, even in Jerusalem, are ample proof of his 
piety and magnanimity. 

There were also Lorenzo de' Medici, surnamed the Great for 
his virtuous deeds, and two great popes, Leo and Clement, 
also many cardinals and grand personages of the name; 
besides the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosmo de' Medici, a 
wise and wary man, if ever there was one. He succeeded in 
maintaining himself in his duchy, which he found invaded 
and much disturbed when he came to it. 

In short, nothing can rob this house of the Medici of its 
lustre, very noble and grand as it is in every way. 

As for the house of Boulogne and Auvergne, who will say 
that it is not great, having issued originally from that noble 
Eustache de Boulogne, whose brother, Godefroy de Bouillon, 
bore arms and escutcheons with so vast a number of 
princes, seigneurs, chevaliers, and Christian soldiers, even to 
Jerusalem and the Sepulchre of our Saviour ; and would have 
made himself, by his sword and the favour of God, king, not 


only of Jerusalem but of the greater part of the East, to the 
confusion of Mahomet, the Saracens, and the Mahometans, 
amazing all the rest of the world and replanting Christianity 
in Asia, where it had fallen to the lowest ? 

For the rest, this house has ever been sought in alliance 
by all the monarchies of Christendom and the great families ; 
such as France, England, Scotland, Hungary, and Portugal, 
which latter kingdom belonged to it of right, as I have heard 
President de Thou say, and as the queen herself did me' the 
honour to tell me at Bordeaux when she heard of the death 
of King Sebastian [in Morocco, 1578], the ]\Iedici being 
received to argue the justice of their rights at the last 
Assembly of States before the decease of King Henry [in 
1580]. This was why she armed M. de Strozzi to make an 
invasion, the King of Spain having usurped the kingdom ; 
she was arrested in so fine a course only by reasons which I 
will explain at another time. 

I leave you to suppose, therefore, whether this house 
of Boulogne was great ; yes, so great that I once heard Pope 
Pius IV. say, sitting at table at a dinner he gave after his 
election to the Cardinals of Ferrara and Guise, his creations, 
that the house of Boulogne was so great and noble he knew 
none in France, whatever it was, that could surpass it in 
antiquity, valour, and grandeur. 

All this is much against those malicious detractors who 
have said that this queen was a Florentine of low birth. 
Moreover, she was not so poor but what she brought to 
France in marriage estates which are worth to-day twenty-six 
thousand livres, — such as the counties of Auvergne and Laura- 
gais, the seigneuries of Leverons, Donzenac, Boussac, Gorrfeges, 
Hondecourt and other lands, — all an inheritance from her 
mother. Besides which, her dowry was of more than two 
hundred thousand ducats, which are worth to-day over four 


hundred thousand ; with great quantities of furniture, precious 
stones, jewels, and other riches, such as the finest and largest 
pearls ever seen in so great a number, which she afterwards 
gave to her daughter-in-law, the Queen of Scotland [Mary 
Stuart], whom I have seen wearing them. 

Besides all tliis, many estates, houses, deeds, and claims in 

But more than all else, through her marriage the affairs of 
France, which had been so shaken by the imprisonment of 
the king and his losses at Milan and Naples, began to get 
firmer. King Francois was very willing to say that the mar- 
riage had served his interests. Therefore there was given to 
this queen for her device a rainbow, which she bore as long 
as she was married, with these words in Greek ^co9 ^epec 
■^Se r^aXrjvrjv. Which is the same as saying that just as this 
fire and bow in the sky brings and signifies good weather 
after rain, so this queen was a true sign of clearness, serenity, 
and the tranquilhty of peace. The Greek is thus translated : 
Lucem fert et serenitatem — " She brings Kght and serenity." 

After that, the emperor [Charles V.] dared push no longer 
his ambitious motto : " Ever farther." For, although there 
was truce between himself and King Francois, he was nurs- 
ing his ambition with the design of gaining always from 
France whatever he could ; and he was much astonished at 
this alliance with the pope [Clement VII.], regarding the lat- 
ter as able, courageous, and vindictive for his imprisonment 
by the imperial forces at the sack of Eome [1527]. Such a 
marriage displeased him so much that I have heard a truthful 
lady of the Court say that if he had not been married to the 
empress, he would have seized an alliance with the pope him- 
self and espoused his niece [Catherine de' Medici], as much 
for the support of so strong a party as because he feared the 
pope would assist in making him lose Naples, Milan, and 



Genoa; for the pope had promised King Francois, in an 
authentic document, when he dehvered to him the money of 
his niece's dowry and her rings and jewels, to make the dowry 
worthy of such a marriage by the addition of three pearls of 
inestimable value, of the excessive splendour of which all the 
greatest kings were envious and covetous ; the which were 
Naples, Milan, and Genoa. And it is not to be doubted that 
if the said f)ope had lived out his natural life he would have 
sold the emperor well, and made him pay dear for that im- 
prisonment, in order to aggrandize his niece and the kingdom 
to which she was joined. But Clement VII. died young, and 
aU this profit came to nought. 

So now our queen, having lost her mother, Magdelaine de 
Boulogne, and Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, her 
father, in early life, was married by her good uncle the pope 
to France, whither she was brought by sea to Marseille in 
great triumph ; and her wedding was pompously performed, 
at the age of fourteen. She made herself so beloved by the 
king, her father-in-law, and by King Henri, her husband 
[not king till the death of Frangois I.], that on remaining ten 
years without producing issue, and many persons endeavouring 
to persuade the king and the dauphin, her husband, to repu- 
diate her because there was such need of an heir to France, 
neither the one nor the other would consent because they 
loved her so much. But after ten years, in accordance with 
the natural habit of the women of the race of Medici, who 
are tardy in conceiving, she began by producing the little 
King FranQois II. After that, was born the Queen of 
Spain, and then, consecutively, that fine and illustrious 
progeny whom we have all seen, and also others no sooner 
born than dead, by great misfortune and fatality. All this 
caused the king, her husband, to love her more and more, 
and in such a way that he, who was of an amorous tempera- 


ment, and greatly liked to make love and to change his loves, 
said often that of all the women in the world there was none 
like his wife for that, and he did not know her equal. He 
had reason to say so, for she was truly a beautiful and most 
amiable princess. 

She was of rich and very fine presence ; of great majesty, 
but very gentle when need was ; of noble appearance and 
good grace, her face handsome and agreeable, her bosom 
very beautiful, white and full ; her body also very white, 
the flesh beautiful, the skin smooth, as I have heard from 
several of her ladies ; of a fine plumpness also, the leg and 
thigh very beautiful (as I have heard, too, from the same 
ladies) ; and she took great pleasure in being well shod and 
in having her stockings well and tightly drawn up. 

Besides all this, the most beautiful hand that was ever 
seen, as I believe. Once upon a time the poets praised 
Aurora for her fine hands and beautiful fingers ; but I think 
our queen would efface her in that, and she guarded and 
maintained that beauty all her Kfe. The king, her son, 
Henri III., inherited much of this beauty of the hand. 

She always clothed herself well and superbly, often with 
some pretty and new invention. In short, she had many 
charms in herself to make her beloved. I remember that 
one day at Lyons she went to see a painter named Corneille, 
who had painted in a large room all the great seigneurs, 
princes, cavaliers, queens, princesses, ladies of the Court, and 
damoiselles. Being in the said room of these portraits we 
saw there our queen, painted very well in all her beauty 
and perfection, apparelled h la Frangaise in a cap and her 
great pearls, and a gown with wide sleeves of silver tissue 
furred with lynx, — the whole so well represented to the life 
that only speech was lacking ; her three fine daughters were 
beside her. She took great pleasure at the sight, and all the 


company there present did the same, praising and admiring 
her beauty above all. She herself was so ravished by the 
contemplation that she could not take her eyes from the 
picture until M. de Nemours came to her and said : " Madame, 
I think you are there so well portrayed that nothing more 
can be said ; and it seems to me that your daughters do you 
proper honour, for they do not go before you or surpass you." 
To this she answered : " My cousin, I think you can re- 
member the time, the age, and the dress of this picture ; so 
that you can judge better than any of this company, for 
you saw me like that, whether I was estimated such as you 
say, and whether I ever was as I there appear." There was 
not one in the company that did not praise and estimate 
that beauty highly, and say that the mother was worthy 
of the daughters, and the daughters of the mother. And 
such beauty lasted her, married and widowed, almost to her 
death ; not that she was as fresh as in her more blooming 
years, but always well preserved, very desirable and agreeable. 

For the rest, she was very good company and of gay 
humour ; loving all honourable exercises, such as dancing, in 
which she had great grace and majesty. 

She also loved hunting ; about which I heard a lady of 
the Court tell this tale : King rran9ois, having chosen and 
made a company which was called " the little band of the 
Court ladies," the handsomest, daintiest, and most favoured, 
often escaped from the Court and went to other houses to 
hunt the stag and pass his time, sometimes staying thus 
withdrawn eight days, ten days, sometimes more and some- 
times less, as the humour took him. Our queen (who was 
then only Mme. la dauphine) seeing such parties made with- 
out her, and that even Mesdames her sisters-in-law were there 
while she stayed at home, made prayer to the king, to take 
her always with him, and to do her the honour to permit 
that she should never budge without him. 



It was said that she, being very shrewd and clever, did 
this as much or more to see the king's actions and get his 
secrets and hear and know all things, as from liking for the 

King Francois was pleased with this request, for it showed 
the good-wiU that she had for his company ; and he granted 
it heartily ; so that besides loving her naturally he now 
loved her more, and delighted in giving her pleasure in the 
hunt, at which she never left his side, but followed him at 
full speed. She was very good on horseback and bold; 
sitting with ease, and being the first to put the leg around 
a pommel ; which was far more graceful and becoming 
than sitting with the feet upon a plank. Till she was sixty 
years of age and over she liked to ride on horseback, and 
after her weakness prevented her she pined for it. It was 
one of her greatest pleasures to ride far and fast, though she 
fell many times with damage to her body, breaking her leg 
once, and wounding her head, which had to be trepanned. 
After she was widowed and had charge of the king and the 
kingdom, she took the king always with her, and her other 
children ; but while her husband. King Henri, lived, she 
usually went with him to the meet of the stag and the other 

If he played at pall-mall she watched him play, and played 
herself. She was very fond of shooting with a cross-bow 
tb jalet [ball of stone], and she shot right well ; so that 
always when she went to ' ride her cross-bow was taken 
with her, and if she saw any game, she shot it. 

She was ever inventing some new dance or beautiful ballet 
when the weather was bad. Also she invented games and 
passed her time with one and another intimately ; but always 
appearing very grave and austere when necessary. 

She was fond of seeing comedies and tragedies ; but after 


" Sophonisbe," a tragedy composed by M. de Saint-Gdlais, was 
very well represented by her daughters and other ladies and 
damoiselles and gentlemen of her Court, at Blois for the 
marriages of M. du Cypifere and the Marquis d'Elboeuf, she 
took an opinion that it was harmful to the affairs of the king- 
dom, and would never have tragedies played again. But she 
listened readily to comedies and tragi-comedies, and even 
those of " Zani " and " Pantaloon," taking great pleasure in 
them, and laughing with all her heart like any other ; for she 
liked laughter, and her natural self was jovial, loving a witty 
word and ready with it, knowing well when to cast her speech 
and her stone, and when to withhold them. 

She passed her time in the afternoons at work on her silk 
embroideries, in which she was as perfect as possible. In 
short, this queen liked and gave herself up to all honourable 
exercises ; and there was not one that was worthy of herself 
and her sex that she did not wish to know and practise. 

There is what I can say, speaking briefly and avoiding pro- 
lixity, about the beauty of her body and her occupations. 

When she called any one " my friend " it was either 
that she thought him a fool, or she was angry with him. 
This was so well known that she had a serving gentleman 
named M. de Bois-Fevrier, who made reply when she called 
him " my friend " : " Ha ! madame, I would rather you 
called me your enemy; for to call me your friend is as 
good as saying I am a fool, or that you are in anger against 
me ; for I know your nature this long time." 

As for her mind, it was very great and very admirable, as 
was shown in so many fine and signal acts by which her life 
has been made illustrious forever. The king, her husband, 
and his council esteemed her so much that when the king 
went his journey to Germany, out of his kingdom, he estab- 
lished and ordered her as regent and governor tliroughout 


his dominions during his absence, by a declaration solemnly 
made before a full parliament in Paris. And in this office 
she behaved so wisely that there was no disturbance, change, 
or alteration in the State by reason of the king's absence ; 
but, on the contrary, she looked so carefully to business that 
she assisted the king with money, means, and men, and other 
kinds of succour ; which helped him much for his return, and 
even for the conquest which he made of cities in the duchy 
of Luxembourg, such as Yvoy, Montmedy, Dampvilliers, 
Chimay, and others. 

I leave you to think how he who wrote that fine life I 
spoke of detracted from her in saying that never did the king, 
her husband, allow her to put her nose into matters of State. 
Was not making her regent in his absence giving her ample 
occasion to have full knowledge of them ? And it was thus 
she did during all the journeys that he made yearly in going 
to his armies. 

What did she after the battle of Saint-Laurens, when 
the State was shaken and the king had gone to Compifegne 
to raise a new army? She so espoused affairs that she 
roused and excited the gentlemen of Paris to give prompt 
succour to their king, which came most apropos, both in 
money and in other things very necessary in war. 

Also, when the king was wounded, those who were of that 
time and saw it cannot be ignorant of the great care she took 
for his cure: the watches she made beside him without ever 
sleeping ; the prayers with which, time after time, she im- 
portuned God; the processions and visitation of churches 
which she made ; and the posts which she sent about every- 
where inquiring for doctors and surgeons. But his hour had 
come ; and when he passed from this world into the other, 
she made such lamentations and shed such tears that never did 
she stanch them ; and in memory of him, whenever he was 


spoken of as long as she lived, they gushed from the depths 
of her eyes ; so that she took a device proper and suitable to 
her tears and her mourning, namely : a mound of quickhme, 
on which the drops of heaven fell abundantly, with these 
words writ in Latin: Adorem extincta testantur vivere 
flamma ; the drops of water, hke her tears, showing ardour, 
though the flame was extinct. This device takes its allegory 
from the nature of quicklime, which, being watered, burns 
strangely and shows its fire though flame is not there. Thus 
did our queen show her ardour and her affection by her 
tears, though flame, which was her husband, was now ex- 
tinct ; and this was as much as to say that, dead as he was, 
she made it appear by her tears that she could never forget 
him, but should love him always. 

A like device was borne in former days by Madame Valen- 
tine de Milan, Duchesse d'Orl^ans, after the death of her 
husband, killed in Paris, for which she had such great re- 
gret that for all comfort and solace in her moaning, she 
took a watering-pot for her device, on the top of which was 
an S, in sign, so they say, of seule, souvenir, soucis, soupirer, 
and around the said watering-pot were written these words : 
Rien ne m'est plus ; plus ne m'est rien — " Nought is more to 
me ; more is to me nothing." This device can still be seen 
in her chapel in the church of the Franciscans at Blois. 

The good King Een^ of Sicily, having lost his wife Isabel, 
Duchesse de Lorraine, suffered such great grief that never 
did he truly rejoice again; and when his intimate friends 
and favourites urged him to consolation he led them to his 
cabinet and showed them, painted by his own hand (for he 
was an excellent painter), a Turkish bow with its string un- 
strung, beneath which was written : Arco per leritare piaga 
non sana — " The bow although unstrung heals not the wound." 
Then he said to them: "My friends, with tliis picture 


I answer all your reasons: by unstringing a bow or 
breaking its string, the harm thus done by the arrow may 
quickly be mended, but, the life of my dear spouse being by 
death extinct and broken, the wound of the loyal love — the 
which, her living, filled my heart — cannot be cured." And 
in various places in Angers we see these Turkish bows with 
broken strings and beneath them the same words, Arco per 
lentare piaga non sana ; even at the Franciscan church, in 
the chapel of Saint-Bernardin which he caused to be deco- 
rated. This device he took after the death of his wife ; for 
in her lifetime he bore another. 

Our queen, around her device which I have told of, 
placed many trophies : broken mirrors and fans, crushed 
plumes, and pearls, jewels scattered to earth, and chains in 
pieces ; the whole in sign of quitting worldly pomp, her 
husband being dead, for whom her mourning never was 
remitted. And, without the grace of God and the fortitude 
with which he had endowed her, she would surely have suc- 
cumbed to such great sadness and distress. Besides, she saw 
that her young children and France had need of her, as we 
have since seen by experience; for, Kke a Semiramis, or 
second Athalie, she foiled, saved, guarded, and preserved her 
said young children from many enterprises planned against 
them in their early years ; and this with so much industry 
and prudence that everybody thought her wonderful. She, 
being regent of the kingdom after the death of her son King 
Francois during the minority of our king by the ordering of 
the Estates of Orleans, imposed her will upon the King 
of Navarre, who, as premier prince of the blood, wished to 
be regent in her place and govern all things ; but she gained 
so well and so dexterously the said Estates that if the said 
King of Navarre had not gone elsewhere she would have 
caused him to be attainted of the crime of Ihe-majeste. 


And possibly she would stiU have done so for the actions 
which, it was said, he made the Prince de Conde do about 
those Estates, but for Mme. de Montpensier, who governed 
her much. So the said king was forced to content himself 
to be under her. Now there is one of the shrewd and subtle 
deeds she did in her beginning. 

Afterwards she knew how to maintain her rank and au- 
thority so imperiously that no one dared gainsay it, however 
grand and disturbing he was, for a period of three months 
when, the Court being at Fontainebleau, the said King of 
Navarre, wishing to show his feelings, took offence because 
M. de Guise ordered the keys of the king's house brought to 
him every evening, and kept them all night in his room like 
a grand-master (for that is one of his offices), so that no one 
could go out without his permission. This angered the King 
of Navarre, who wished to keep the keys himself ; but, being 
refused, he grew spiteful and mutinied in such a way that 
one morning suddenly he came to take leave of the king 
and queen, intending to depart from the Court, taking with 
him all the princes of the blood whom he had won over, 
together with M. le Conn^table de Montmorency and his 
children and nephew. 

The queen, who did not in any way expect this step, was 
at first much astonished, and tried all she could to ward off 
the blow, giving good hope to the King of Navarre that if 
he were patient he would some day be satisfied. But fine 
words gained her nothing with the said king, who was set 
on departing. Whereupon the queen bethought her of this 
subtle point: she sent and gave commandment to M. le 
conn^table, as the principal, first, and oldest officer of the 
crown, to stay near the king, his master, as his duty and 
office demanded, and not to leave him. M. le conndtable, 
wise and judicious as he was, being very zealous for his 


master and careful of his grandeur and honour, after reflect- 
ing on his duty and the command sent to him, went to 
see the king and present himself as ready to fulfil his 
office ; which greatly astonished the King of Navarre, who 
was on the point of mounting his horse expecting M. le 
conn^table, who came instead to represent his duty and 
office and to persuade him not to budge himself nor to de- 
part ; and did this so well that the King of Navarre went 
to see the king and queen at the instigation of the conn^- 
table, and having conferred with their Majesties, his journey 
was given up and his mules were countermanded, they having 
then arrived at Melun. So all was pacffied to the great content 
of the King of Navarre. Not that M. de Guise diminished in 
any way his office, or yielded one atom of his honour, for 
he kept his pre-eminence and all that belonged to him, with- 
out being shaken in the least, although he was not the 
stronger ; but he was a man of the world in such things, 
who was never bewildered, but knew very well how to brave 
all and hold his rank and keep what he had. 

It is not to be doubted, as all the world knows, that, if the 
queen had not bethought her of this ruse regarding M. le 
conndtable, all that party would have gone to Paris and 
stirred up things to our injury ; for which reason great praise 
should be given to the queen for this shift. I know, for I was 
there, that many persons said it was not of her invention, but 
that of Cardinal de Tournon, a wise and judicious prelate ; but 
that is false, for, old stager though he was, i' faith the queen 
knew more of wiles than he, or all the council of the king 
together; for very often, when he was at fault, she would 
help him and put him on the traces of what he ought to 
know, of which I might produce a number of examples ; but 
it will be enough to give this instance, which is fresh, and 
which she herself did me the honour to disclose to me. It is 
as follows : — 


When she went to Guyenne, and lately to Coignac, to recon- 
cile the princes of the Eeligion and those of the League, and 
so put the kingdom in peace, for she saw it would soon be 
ruined by such divisions, she determined to proclaim a truce 
in order to treat of this peace ; at which the King of Navarre 
and the Prince de Cond^ were very discontent and mutinous, 
— all the more, they said, because this proclamation did them 
great harm on account of their foreigners, who, having heard 
of it, might repent of their coming, or delay it; and they 
accused the said queen of having made it with that intention. 
So they said and resolved not to see the queen, and not to 
treat with her unless the said truce were rescinded. Now 
finding her council, whom she had with her, though com- 
posed of good heads, very ridiculous and httle to be honoured 
because they thought it impossible to find means to rescind 
the said truce, the queen said to them : " Truly, you are very 
stupid as to the remedy. Know you not better ? There is 
but one means for that. You have at Maillezais the regiment 
of Neufvy and de Sorlu, Huguenots ; send me from here, from 
Niort, all the arquebusiers that you can, and cut them to pieces, 
and there you have the truce rescinded and undone without 
further trouble." As she commanded so it was executed; 
the arquebusiers started, led by the Capitaine I'Estelle, and 
forced their fort and their barricades so well that there they 
were quite defeated, Sorlu killed, who was a valiant man, 
Neufvy taken prisoner with many others, and all their ban- 
ners captured and brought to Niort to the queen ; who, using 
her accustomed turn of clemency, pardoned all and sent them 
away with their ensigns and even with their flags, which, as 
regards the flags, is a very rare thing. But she chose to do 
this stroke, rare or not, so she told me, to the princes ; who 
now knew they had to do with a very able princess, and that 
it was not to her they should address such mockery as to 


make her rescind a truce by tlie very heralds who had pro- 
claimed it ; for while they were thinking to make her receive 
that insult, she had fallen upon them, and now sent them 
word by the prisoners that it was not for them to affront her 
by asking unseemly and unreasonable things, because it was 
in her power to do them both good and evil. 

That is how this queen knew how to give and teach a les- 
son to her council. I might tell of many such things, but I 
have now to treat of other points : the first of which must be 
to answer those whom I have often heard say that she was 
the first to rouse to arms, and so was cause of our civil wars. 
Whoso will look to the source of the matter will not believe 
that ; for the triumvirate having been created, she, seeing 
the proceedings which were preparing and the change made 
by the King of Navarre, — who from being formerly Huguenot 
and very reformed had made himself Catholic, — and knowing 
that through that change she had reason to fear for the king, 
the kingdom, and her own person that he would move against 
them, reflected and puzzled her mind to discover to what such 
proceedings, meetings, and colloquies held in secret tended. 
Not being able, as they say, to come at the bottom of the 
pot, she bethought her one day, when the secret council was 
in session in the room of the King of Navarre, to go into the 
room above his, and by means of a tube which she had caused 
to be slipped surreptitiously under the tapestry she listened 
unperceived to their discourse. Among other things she 
heard one thing that was very terrible and bitter to her. 
The Mar^chal de Saint- Andr^, one of the triumvirate, gave it 
as his opinion that the queen should be put in a sack and 
flung into the river, for that otherwise they could never suc- 
ceed in their plans. But the late M. de Guise, who was very 
good and generous, said that must not be; for it were too 
unjust to make the wife and mother of our kings perish thus 


miserably, and he opposed it all. For this the said queen 
has always loved him, and proved it to his children after his 
death by giving them his estates. 

I leave you to suppose what this sentence was to the 
queen, having heard it thus with her own ears, and whether 
she had no occasion for fear, although she was thus defended 
by M. de Guise. From what I have heard tell by one of 
her most intimate ladies, she feared they would strike the 
blow without the knowledge of M. de Guise, as indeed she 
had reason to do ; for in deeds so detestable an upright man 
should always be distrusted, and the act not commimicated 
to him. She was thus compelled to consider her safety, and 
employ those she saw already under arms [the Prince de 
Cond^ and other Protestant leaders], begging them to have 
pity for a mother and her children. 

That is the whole cause, just as it was, of the civil war. 
She would never go to Orlt^ans with the others, nor give 
them the king and her children, as she could have done ; 
and she was very glad that in the hurly-burly of arms she 
and the king her son and her other children were in safety, 
as was reasonable. Moreover, she requested and held the 
promise of the others that whenever she should summon 
them to lay down their arms they would do so ; which, 
nevertheless, they would not do when the time came, no 
matter what appeals she made to them, and what pains she 
took, and the great heat she endured at Talsy, to induce 
them to listen to the peace she could have made good and 
secured for all France had they then listened to her ; and 
this great fire and others we have since seen lighted from 
this first brand would have been forever extinguished in 
France if they would then have trusted her. I know what 
I myself have heard her say, with the tears in her eyes, and 
with what zeal she endeavoured to do it. 


This is why they cannot charge her with the first spark 
of the civil war, nor yet with the second, which was the day 
of Meaux ; for at that time she was thinking only of a hunt, 
and of giving pleasure to the king in her beautiful house at 
Monceaux. The warning came that M. le Prince and others 
of the Eehgion were in arms and advancing to surprise and 
seize the king under colour of presenting a request. God 
knows who was the cause of this new disturbance, and with- 
out the six thousand Swiss then lately raised, who knows 
what might have happened ? This levy of Swiss was only the 
pretext of their taking up arms, and of saying and publishing 
that it was done to force them to war. In fact it was they, 
themselves, as I know from being at Court, who requested 
that levy of the king and queen, on the passage of the Duke 
of Alba and his army, fearing that under colour of reaching 
Flanders he might descend upon the frontiers of France ; 
and they urged that it was the custom to arm the frontiers 
whenever a neighbouring State was arming. No one can be 
ignorant how urgent for this they were to the king and 
queen by letters and embassies, — even M. le Prince himself 
and M. I'amiral [Coligny] coming to see the king on this 
subject at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where I saw them. 

I would also like to ask (for all that I write here I saw 
myself) who it was who took up arms on Shrove Tuesday, 
and who suborned and solicited Monsieur the king's brother, 
and the King of Navarre, to give ear to the enterprises for 
which Mole and Coconas were executed in Paris. It was 
not the queen, for it was by her prudence that she prevented 
them from uprising, — by keeping Monsieur and the King of 
Navarre so locked in to the forest of Vincennes that they 
could not get out; and on the death of King Charles she 
held them so tightly in Paris and the Louvre, barring their 
windows one morning, — at any rate those of the King of 


Navarre, who was lodged on the lower floor (the King of 
Navarre, told me this himself with tears in his eyes), — that 
they could not escape as they intended, which would greatly 
have embroiled the State and prevented the return of Poland 
to the King, which was what they were after. I know all 
this from having been invited to the fricassee, which was one 
of the finest strokes ever made by the queen. Starting from 
Paris she conducted them to Lyons to meet the kiag so dex- 
terously that no one who saw them would ever have sup- 
posed them prisoners ; they went in the same coach with her, 
and she presented them herself to the king, who, on his 
side, pardoned them soon after. 

Also, who was it that enticed Monsieur the king's brother 
to leave Paris one fine night and the company of his brother 
who loved him well, and whose affection he cast off to go 
and take up arms and embroil all France ? M. de La None 
knows well, and also the secret plots that began at the siege 
of Kochelle, and what I said to him about them. It was 
not the queen-mother, for she felt such grief at seeing one 
brother banded against another brother and his king, that 
she swore she would die of it, or else replace and reunite them 
as before — which she did ; for I heard her say at Blois, in 
conversation with Monsieur, that she prayed for nothing so 
much as that God would grant her the favour of that re- 
union, after which he might send her death and she would 
accept it with all her heart ; or else she would gladly retire 
to her houses of Monceaux and Chenonceaux, and never 
mix further in the affairs of France, wishing to end her days 
in tranquillity. In fact, she truly wished to do the latter ; 
but the king implored her to abstain, for he and his kingdom 
had great need of her. I am assured that if she had not 
made this peace at that time, all was over with France, for 
there were in the country fifty thousand foreigners, from 


one region or another, who would have aided in humbling 
and destroying her. 

It was, therefore, not the queen who called to arms at this 
time to satisfy the State-Assembly at Blois, the which, want- 
ing but one religion and proposing to abohsh that which was 
contrary to their own, demanded, if the spiritual blade did 
not suffice to abolish it, that recourse should be had to the 
temporal. Some have said that the queen had bribed them ; 
that is false. I do not say that she did not bribe them later, 
which was a fine stroke of policy and intelligence; but it 
was not she who called together the said Assembly ; so far 
from that, she blamed them for all, and also because they 
lessened greatly the king's authority and her own. It was 
the party of the Eeligion which had long demanded that 
Assembly, and required by the terms of the last peace that it 
should be called together and assembled ; to which the queen 
objected strongly, foreseeing abuses. However, to content 
them because they clamoured for it so much, they had it, to 
their own confusion and damage, and not to their profit and 
contentment as they expected, so that finally they took up 
arms. Thus it was still not the queen who did so. 

Neither was it she who caused them to be taken up when 
Mont-de-Marsan, La F^re in Picardy, and Cahors were taken. 
I remember what the king said to M. de Miossans, who 
came to him on behalf of the King of Navarre ; he rebuffed 
him harshly, and told him that while those princes were 
cloying him with fine words they were calling to arms and 
taking cities. 

Now that is how this queen was the instigator of all our 
wars and civil fires, the which, while she never lighted them, 
she spent her pains and labour in striving to extinguish, 
abhorring to see so many of the nobles and men of honour 
die. And without that, and without her commiseration, they 



wlio have hated her with mortal hatred would have been 
ill-off, and their party underground and not flourishing as it 
now is ; which must be imputed to her kindness, of which 
we now have sore need, for, as every one says and the poor 
people cry, " "We have no longer the queen-mother to make 
peace for us." It was not her fault that peace was not made 
when she went to Guyenne lately to treat of it with the King 
of Navarre and the Prince de Cond^. 

They have tried to accuse her also of being an accomplice 
in the wars of the League. Why, then, should she have 
brought about the peace of which I speak if she were that ? 
Why should she have pacified the riot of the barricades in 
Paris ? Wliy should she have reconciled the king and the 
Due de Guise only to destroy the latter and kill him ? 

Well, let them launch into such foul abuse against her aU 
they will, never shall we have another queen in France so 
good for peace. 

They have accused her of that massacre in Paris [the 
Saint-Bartholomew] ; all that is a sealed book to me, for at 
that time I was preparing to embark at Brouage ; but I have 
often heard it said that she was not the chief actress in it. 
There were three or four others, whom I might name, who 
were more ardent in it than she and pushed her on, making 
her believe, from the threats uttered on the woimding of 
M., I'amiral, that the king was to be killed, and she with all 
her cliildren and the whole Court, or else that the country 
would be in arms much worse than ever. Certainly the 
party of Eeligion did very wrong to make the threats it is 
said they made ; for they brought on the fate of poor M. 
I'amiral, and procured his death. If they had kept them- 
selves quiet, said no word, and let M. I'amiral's wound heal, 
he could have left Paris at his ease, and nothing further 
would have come of it. M. de La None was of that opinion. 


He and M. Strozzi and I have often spoken of it, lie not 
approving of such bravados, audacities, and threats as were 
made at the very Court of the king in his city of Paris ; and 
he greatly blamed M. de Thehgny, his brother-in-law, who 
was one of the hottest, calling him and his companions per- 
fect fools and most incapable. M. I'amiral never used such 
lano-uaae as I have heard from others, at least not aloud. I 
do not say that in secret and private with his intimate 
friends he never spoke it. That was the cause of the death 
of M. I'amiral and the massacres of his people, and not the 
queen ; as I have heard say by those who know well, although 
there are many from whose heads you could never oust the 
opinion that this train was long laid and the plot long in 
hatching. It is all false. The least passionate think as I 
have said; the more passionate and obstinate beheve the 
other way ; and very often we give credit for the ordering of 
events to kings and great princes, and say after those events 
have happened how prudent and provident they were, and 
how well they knew how to dissimulate, when all the while 
they knew no more about them than a plum. 

To return again to our queen; her enemies have put it 
about that she was not a good Frenchwoman. God knows 
with what ardour I saw her urge that the Enghsh might be 
driven from France at Havre de Grg,ce, and what she said of 
it to M. le Prince, and how she made him go with many 
gentlemen of his party, and the crown-companies of M. 
d'Andelot, and other Huguenots, and how she herself led the 
army, mounted usually on a horse, hke a second beautiful 
Queen Marfisa, exposing herself to the arquebusades and the 
cannonades as if she were one of her captains, looking to the 
making of the batteries, and saying she should never be at 
ease until she had taken that town and driven the Enghsh 
out of France ; hating worse than poison those who had sold 


it to them. And thus she did so much that finally she made 

the country French. 

When Itouen was besieged, I saw her in the greatest anger 
when she beheld supplies entermg the town by means of a 
French galley captured the year before, she fearing that the 
place, failing to be taken by us, would come under the domin- 
ion of the English. For this reason she pushed hard at the 
wheel, as they say, to take it, and never failed every day to 
come to the fort Sainte- Catherine to hold council and see 
the firing. I have often seen her passing along the covered 
way of Sainte-Catherine, the cannonades and arquebusades 
raining roimd her, and she caring nothing for them. 

Those who were there saw her as I did; there are still 
many ladies, her maids of honour who accompanied her, to 
whom the firing was not too pleasant ; I knew this for I saw 
them there ; but when M. le conn^table and M. de Guise 
remonstrated with her, telling her some misfortune would 
come of it, she only laughed and said : "VVliy should she 
spare herself more than they, inasmuch as she had as good 
courage as they had, though not their strength, which her 
sex denied her? As for fatigue, she endured that well, 
whether on foot or on horseback. I think that for long 
there had never been a queen or a princess better on horse- 
back, sitting with such grace, — not appearing, for all that, like 
a masculine dame, in form and style a fantastic amazon, but 
a comely princess, beautiful, agreeable, and gentle. 

They said of her that she was very Spanish. Certainly 
as long as her good daughter lived [Elisabeth, wife of 
Philip II.] she loved Spain ; but after her daughter died 
we knew, at least some of us, whether she had reason to 
love it, either country or nation. True it is that she was 
always so prudent that she chose to treat the King of 
Spain as her good son-in-law, in order that he in turn should 


treat better her good and beautiful daughter, as is the custom 
of good mothers ; so that he never came to trouble France, 
nor to bring war there, according to his brave heart and 
natural ambition. 

Others have also said that she did not like the nobility 
of France and desired much to shed its blood. I refer for 
that to the many times that she made peace and spared that 
blood; besides which, attention should be paid to this, 
namely : that while she was regent, and her children minors, 
there were not known at Court so many quarrels and combats 
as we have seen there since; she would not allow them, 
and forbade expressly all duelling and punished those who 
transgressed that order. I have seen her at Court, when 
the king went away to stay some days and she was left 
absolute and alone, at a time when quarrels had begun agaia 
and were becoming common, also duelling, which she never 
would permit, — I have known her, I say, give a sudden 
order to the captain of the guards to make arrests, and to the 
marshals and captains to pacify the quarrel ; so that, to tell 
the truth, she was more feared than the king ; for she knew 
how to talk to the disobedient and the dissolute, and rebuke 
them terribly. 

I remember that once, the kiag having gone to the baths 
of Bourbon, my late cousin La Chastaignerie had a quarrel 
with Pardailhan. She had him searched for, in. order to 
forbid him, on his hfe, to fight a duel ; but not being able 
to find him for two whole days, she had him tracked so 
weU. that on a Sunday morning, he being on the island of 
Louviers awaiting his enemy, the grand provost arrived to 
arrest him, and took him prisoner to the Bastille by order 
of the queen. But he stayed there only one night ; for she 
sent for him and gave him a reprimand, partly sharp and partly 
gentle, because she was really kind, and was harsh only when 


she chose to be. I know very well what she said to me 
also when I was for seconding my said cousin, namely : that 
as the older I ought to have been the wiser. 

The year that the king returned to Poland a quarrel arose 
between ]\Iessieurs de Grillon and d'Entraigues, two brave 
and valiant gentlemen, who bemg called out and ready to 
fight, the kmg forbade them through M. de Rambouillet, 
one of his captams of the guard then in quarters, and he 
ordered M. de Nevers and the Mar^chal de Eetz to make 
up the quarrel, which they failed in doing. That evenmg 
the queen sent for them both into her room ; and as their 
quarrel was about two great ladies of her household, she 
commanded them with great sternness, and then besought 
them both in all gentleness, to leave to her the settlement 
of their differences; inasmuch as, having done them the 
honour to meddle in it, and the princes, marshals, and cap- 
tains having failed in making them agree, it was now a 
point of honour with her to have the glory of doing so: 
by which she made them friends, and they embraced with- 
out other forms, taking all from her ; so that by her prudence 
the subject of the quarrel, which was delicate, and rather 
touched the honour of the two ladies, was never known 
publicly. That was the true kindness of a princess ! And 
then to say she did not Hke the nobility ! Ha ! the truth 
was, she noticed and esteemed it too much. I think there 
was not a great family in the kingdom with whom she was 
not acquainted ; she used to say she had learned from King 
Francois the genealogies of the great famihes of his king- 
dom ; and as for the king, her husband, he had this faculty, 
that when he had once seen a nobleman he knew him 
always, in face, in deeds, and in reputation. 

I have seen the queen, often and ordinarily, while the king, 
her son, was a minor, take the trouble to present to him her- 


self the gentlemen of his kingdom, and put them in his 
memory thus : " Such a one did service to the king your 
grandfather, at such and such times and places ; and this one 
served your father ; " and so on, — commanding him to remem- 
ber all this, and to love them and do well by them, and rec- 
ognize them at other times ; which he knew very well how 
to do, for, through such instruction, this king recognized 
readily all men of character and race and honour throughout 
his kingdom. 

Detractors have also said that she did not like her people. 
What appears ? Were there ever so many tailles, subsidies, 
imposts, and other taxes while she was governing during the 
minority of her children as have since been drawn in a single 
year ? Was it proved that she had all that hidden money in 
the banks of Italy, as people said ? Far from that, it was 
found after her death that she had not a single sou ; and, as 
I have heard some of her financiers and some of her ladies 
say, she was indebted eight thousand crowns, the wages of 
her ladies, gentlemen, and household officers, due a year, and 
the revenue of the whole year spent ; so that some months 
before her death her financiers showed her these necessities ; 
but she laughed and said one must praise God for all and 
find something to live on. That was her avarice and the 
great treasure she amassed, as people said ! She never 
amassed anything, for she had a heart wholly noble, liberal, 
and magnificent, like her great uncle. Pope Leo, and that 
magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici. She spent or gave away 
everything ; erecting buildings, spending in honourable mag- 
nificences, and taking pleasure in giving recreations to her 
people and her Court, such as festivals, balls, dances, tourna- 
ments and spearing the ring [couremens de hague], of which 
latter she held three that were very superb during her life- 
time : one at Fontainebleau on the Shrove Tuesday after the 


first troubles ; where there were tourneys and breaking of 
lances and combats at the barrier, — in short, all sorts of 
feats of arms, with a comedy on the subject of the beautiful 
Genevra of Ariosto, which she caused to be represented by 
Mme. d'Angouleme and her most beautiful and virtuous 
princesses and the ladies and damoiselles of her Court, who 
certainly played it very well, and so that nothing finer was 
ever seen. The second was at Bayonne, at the interview 
between the queen and her good daughter Elisabeth, Queen 
of Spain, where the magnificence was such in all tilings that 
the Spanish, who are very disdainful of other countries than 
their own, swore they had never seen anything finer, and 
that their own king could not approach it ; and thus they 
returned to Spain much edified. 

I know that many in France blamed this expense as being 
superfluous ; but the queen said that she did it to show for- 
eigners that France was not so totally ruined and poverty- 
stricken because of the late wars as they thought ; and that 
if for such tourneys she was able to spend so much, for mat- 
ters of importance she could surely do better, and that France 
was all the more feared and esteemed, whether through the 
sight of such wealth and richness, or through that of the 
prowess of her gentlemen, so brave and adroit at arms ; as 
indeed there were many there very good to see and worthy 
to be admired. Moreover, it was very reasonable that for 
the greatest queen of Christendom, the most beautiful, the 
most virtuous, and the best, some great solemn festival 
above all others should be held. And I can assure you that 
if this had not been done, the foreigners would have mocked 
us and gone back to Spain thinking and holding us all in 
France to be beggars. 

Therefore it was not without good and careful consideration 
that this wise and judicious queen made this outlay. She 


made another very fine one on the arrival of the Poles in 
Paris, whom she feasted most superbly in her Tuileries; 
after which, in a great hall built on purpose and surrounded 
by an infinite number of torches, she showed them the finest 
ballet that was ever seen on earth (I may indeed say so) ; 
the which was composed of sixteen of her best-taught ladies 
and damoiselles, who appeared in a great rock [roc, grotto ? ] 
all silvered, where they were seated in niches, like vapours 
around it. These sixteen ladies represented the sixteen 
provinces of France, with the most melodious music ever 
heard ; and after having made, in this rock, the tour of the 
hall, like a parade in camp, and letting themselves be seen 
of every one, they descended from the rock and formed them- 
selves into a little battalion, fantastically imagined, with 
violins to the number of thirty sounding a warlike air ex- 
tremely pleasant ; and thus they marched to the air of the 
vioUns, with a fine cadence they never lost, and so approached, 
and stopped before their Majesties. After which they danced 
their ballet, most fantastically invented, with so many turns, 
counterturns, and gyrations, such twining and blending, such 
advancing and pausing (though no lady failed to find her 
place and rank), that all present were astonished to see how 
in such a maze order was not lost for a moment, and that all 
these ladies had their judgment clear and held it good, so 
well were they taught ! This fantastic ballet lasted at least 
one hour, the which being concluded, all these sixteen ladies, 
representing, as I have said, the sixteen provinces, advanced 
to the king, the queen, the King of Poland, Monsieur his 
brother, the King and Queen of Navarre, and other grandees 
of Prance and Poland, presenting to each a golden salver as 
large as the palm of the hand, finely enamelled and beauti- 
fully chased, on which were engraved the fruits and products 
of each province in which they were most fertile, such as 


citrons and oranges in Provence, cereals in Champagne, wines 
in Burgundy, and in Guyenne warriors, — great honour that 
for Guyenne certainly ! And so on, through the other 

At Bayonne the like presents were made, and a combat 
fought, which I could represent very well, with the presents 
and the names of those who received them, but it would 
be too long. At Bayonne it was the men who gave to the 
ladies ; here, it was the ladies giving to the men. Take note 
that aU these inventions came from no other devising and 
brain than that of the queen ; for she was mistress and in- 
ventress of everything ; she had such faculty that whatever 
magnificences were done at Court, hers surpassed all others. 
For which reason they used to say there was no one hke 
the queen-mother for doing fine things. If such outlays 
were costly, they gave great pleasure ; and people often said 
she wished to imitate the Eoman emperors, who studied to 
exhibit games to their people and give them pleasures, and 
so amuse them as not to leave them leisure to do harm. 

Besides the pleasure she took in giving pleasure to her 
people, she also gave them much to earn ; for she hked aU 
sorts.of artisans and paid them well ; employing them each 
in his own art, so that they never wanted for work, es- 
pecially masons and builders, as is shown by her beautiful 
houses : the Tuileries (still unfinished), Saint-Maur, Mon- 
ceaux, and Chenonceaux. Also she liked learned men, and 
was pleased to read, and she made others read, the books 
they presented to her, or those that she knew they had 
written. AU were acceptable, even to the fine invectives 
which were pubhshed against her, about which she scoffed 
and laughed, without anger, caUing those who WTote them 
gabblers and " givers of trash " — that was her nse of the 


She wished to know everything. On the voyage to Lor- 
raine, during the second troubles, the Huguenots had with 
them a fine culverin to which they gave the name of " the 
queen-mother." They were forced to bury it at Villenozze, 
not being able to drag it on account of its long shafts and 
bad harness and weight ; after which it never could be 
found again. The queen, hearing that they had given it 
her name, wanted to know why. A certain person, having 
been much urged by her to tell her, replied: "Because, 
madame, it has a cahbre [diameter] broader and bigger than 
that of others." The queen was the first to laugh at this 

She spared no pains in reading anything that took her 
fancy. I saw her once, having embarked at Blaye to go 
and dine at Bourg, reading the whole way from a parchment, 
like any lawyer or notary, a proces-verlal made on Derbois, 
favourite secretary of the late M. le conndtable, as to cer- 
tain underhand dealings and correspondence of which he 
was accused and for which imprisoned at Bayonne. She 
never took her eyes off it until she had read it through; 
and there were more than ten pages of parchment. When 
she was not hindered, she read herself all letters of impor- 
tance, and frequently with her own hand made replies; 
I saw her once, after dinner, write twenty long letters 

She wrote and spoke Trench very well, although an 
Italian ; and even to persons of her own nation she usually 
spoke it, so much did she honour France and its language ; 
taking pains to exhibit its fine speech to foreigners, grandees, 
and ambassadors, who came to visit her after seeing the 
king. She always answered them very pertinently, with 
great grace and majesty ; as I have also seen and heard her 
do to the courts of parhament, both publicly and privately ; 


often controlling the latter finely when they rambled in talk 
or were over-cautious, or would not comply with the edicts 
made in her privy council and the ordinances issued by the 
king and herself. You may be sure she spoke as a queen 
and made herself feared as one. I saw her once at Bordeaux 
when she took her daughter Marguerite to her husband, the 
King of Navarre. She had commanded that court of parlia- 
ment to come and be spoken to, — they not being willing to 
abolish a certain brotherhood, by them invented and main- 
tained, which she was determined to break up, foreseeing 
that it would briag some results in the end which might be 
prejudicial to the State. They came to meet her iu the 
garden of the Bishop's house, where she was walking one 
Sunday morning. One among them spoke for all, and gave 
her to understand the fruitfulness of this brotherhood and 
the utility it was to the public. She, without being pre- 
pared, rephed so well and with such apt words, and apparent 
and appropriate reasons to show it was ill-founded and 
odious, that there was no one present who did not admire 
the mind of the queen and remain confused and astonished 
when, as her last word, she said : " No, I will, and the king 
my son wills that it be exterminated, and never heard of 
again, for secret reasons that I shall not tell you, besides 
those that I have told you ; and if not, I will make you feel 
what it is to disobey the king and me." So each and all 
went away and nothing more was said of it. 

She did these turns very often to the princes and the 
greatest people, when they had done some great wrong and 
made her so angry that she took her haughty air, — no one 
on earth being so superb and stately as she, when needful, 
sparing no truths to any one. I have seen the late M. de 
Savoie, who was intimate with the emperor, the King of 
Spain, and so many grandees, fear and respect her more than 


if she had been his mother, and M. de Lorraine the same, — 
in short, all the great people of Christendom ; I could give 
many examples ; but another time, in due course, I will tell 
them ; just now it suffices to say what I have said. 

Among other perfections she was a good Christian and 
very devout ; always making her Easters, and never failing 
any day to attend divine service at mass and vespers ; which 
she rendered very agreeable to pious persons, by the good 
singers of her chapel, — she beiug careful to collect the most 
exquisite ; also she herself loved music by nature, and often 
gave pleasure with it in her apartment, which was never 
closed to virtuous ladies and honourable men, she seeiag all 
and every one, not restricting it as they do in Spain, and also 
in her own land of Italy ; nor yet as our later queens, 
Isabella of Austria and Louise of Lorraine, have done ; but 
saying, like King Francois, her father-in-law (whom she 
greatly honoured, he having set her up and made her free), 
that she wished to keep her Court as a good Frenchwoman, 
and as the king, her husband, would have wished; so that 
her apartments were the pleasure of the Court. 

She had, ordinarily, very beautiful and virtuous maids of 
honour, who conversed with us daily in her antechamber, 
discoursing and chatting so wisely and modestly that none of 
us would have dared to do otherwise ; for the gentlemen who 
failed m this were banished and threatened, and in fear of 
worse until she pardoned and forgave them, she beiug kind 
in herself and very ready to do so. 

In short, her company and her Court were a true paradise 
in the world, and a school of all virtue and honour, the orna- 
ment of France, as the foreigners who came there knew well 
and said ; for they were all most politely received, and her ladies 
and maids of honour were commanded to adorn themselves 
at their coming hke goddesses, and to entertain these visitors, 


not amusing themselves elsewhere ; otherwise she taunted 
them well and reprimanded them. 

In fact, her Court was such that when she died the voices 
of all declared that the Court was no longer a Court, and that 
never again would France have a true queen-mother. What 
a Court it was ! such as, I believe, no Emperor of Eome in 
the olden time ever held for ladies, nor any of our Kings of 
France. Though it is true that the great Emperor Charle- 
magne, King of France, during his Hfetime took great pleas- 
ure in making and maintaining a grand and full Court of 
peers, dukes, counts, palatines, barons, and knights of France ; 
also of ladies, their wives and daughters, with others of all 
countries, to pay court and honour (as the old romances of 
that day have said) to the empress and queen, and to see the 
fine jousts, tournaments, and magnificences done there by 
knights-errant coming from all parts. But what of that ? 
These fine, grand assembhes came together not oftener than 
three or four times a year; at the end of each fete they 
departed and retired to their houses and estates until the 
next time. Besides, some have said that in his old age 
Charlemagne was much given over to women, though always 
of good company ; and that Louis le Debonnaire, on ascend- 
ing the throne, was obliged to banish his sisters to other 
places for the scandal of their lives with men ; and also that 
he drove from Court a number of ladies who belonged to the 
joyous band. Charlemagne's Courts were never of long dura- 
tion (I speak now of his great years), for he amused himself 
in those days with war, according to our old romances, 
and in his last years his Court was too dissolute, as I have 
already said. But the Court of our King Henri II. and 
the queen his wife, was held daily, whether in war or peace, 
and whether it resided in one place or another for months, 
or went to other castles and pleasure-houses of our kings, 


who are not lacking in them, having more than the kings 
of other countries. 

This large and noble company, keeping always together, at 
least the greater part of them, came and went with its queen, 
so that usually her Court was filled by at least three hundred 
ladies and damoiselles. The intendants of the king's houses 
and the quartermasters affirmed that they occupied fully 
one-half of the rooms, as I myself have seen during the 
thirty-three years I lived at Court, except when at war or in 
foreign parts. Having returned, I was always there ; for the 
sojourn was to me most agreeable, not seeing elsewhere any- 
thing finer ; in fact I think, since the world was, nothing has 
ever been seen like it ; and as the noble names of these beau- 
tiful ladies who assisted our queen in adorning her Court 
should not be overlooked, I place them here, according as I 
remember them from the end of the queen's married life and 
throughout her widowhood, for before that time I was too 
young to know them. 

First, I place Mesdames the daughters of France. I place 
them first because they never lost their rank, and go before 
all others, so grand and noble is their house, to wit : — 

Madame Elisabeth de France, afterwards Queen of Spain. 

Madame Claude, afterwards Duchesse de Lorraine. 

Madame Marguerite, afterwards Queen of Navarre. 

Madame the king's sister, afterwards Duchesse de Savoie. 

The Queen of Scots, afterwards dauphine and Queen of 

The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret. 

Madame Catherine, her daughter, to-day called Madame 
the king's [Henri IV.] sister. 

Madame Diane, natural daughter of the king [Henri II.], 
afterwards legitimatized, the Duchesse d'Angouleme. 

Madame d'Enghien, of the house of Estouteville. 


Madame la Princesse de Condd, of the house of Eoye. 

Madame de Nevers, of the house of Yendome. 

Madame de Guise, of the house of Ferrara. 

Madame Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de Valentinois. 

Mesdames d'Aumale and de Bouillon, her daughters.^ 

Need I name more ? No, for my memory could not fur- 
nish them. There are so many other ladies and maids that 
I beg them to excuse me if I pass them by with my pen, — 
not that I do not greatly value and esteem them, but I 
should dream over them and amuse myself too much. To 
make an end, I must say that in all this company there was 
nothing to find fault with in their day ; beauty abounded, 
all majesty, all charm, all grace ; happy was he who could 
touch with love such ladies, and happy those who could 
that love escapar. I swear to you that I have named only 
those ladies and damoiselles who were beautiful, agreeable, 
very accomplished, and well sufficient to set fire to the 
whole world. Indeed, in their best days they burned up 
a good part of it, as much us gentlemen of the Court as 
others who approached the flame ; to some of whom they 
were gentle, aimable, favourable, and courteous. I speak of 
none here, hoping to make good tales about them in this 
book before I finish it, and of others whose names are not 
comprised here ; but the whole told so discreetly, without 
scandal, that nothing will be known, for the curtain of 
silence will cover their names ; so that if by chance they 
should any of them read tales of themselves they will not 
be annoyed. Besides, though the pleasures of love cannot 
last forever, by reason of many inconveniences, hindrances, 
and changes, the memories of the past are always pleasing. 

1 Here follow the names of ninety-three ladies and sixty-six damoiselles ; 
among the latter are " Mesdamoisclles Elamniin (Fleming?) Vcton (Sea- 
ton ? ) Beton (Beaton ? ) Leviston, escossoises." The three first-named on the 
above list are the daughters of Henri II. and Catherine de' Medici. — Tb. 



[This refers to " Les Dames Galantes," and not to the present 

Now, to thoroughly consider how fine a sight was this 
troupe of beautiful ladies and damoiselles, creatures divine 
rather than human, we must imagine the entries into Paris 
and other cities, the sacred and superlative bridals of our 
kings of France, and their sisters, the daughters of France ; 
such as those of the dauphin, of King Charles, of King 
Henri III., of the Queen of Spain, of Madame de Lorraine, 
of the Queen of Navarre, not to speak of many other grand 
weddings of the princes and princesses, like that of M. de 
Joyeuse, which would have surpassed them all if the Queen 
of Navarre had been there. Also we must picture to our- 
selves the interview at Bayonne, the arrival of the Poles, 
and an infinite number of other and like magnificences, 
which I could never finish naming, where I saw these ladies 
appear, each more beautiful than the rest ; some more finely 
appointed and better dressed than others, because for such 
festivals, in addition to their great means, the king and 
queen would give them splendid liveries. 

In short, nothing was ever seen finer, more dazzling, 
dainty, superb ; the glory of Niqu^e never approached it 
[enchanted palace in " Amadis "]. All this shone in a ball- 
room of the Tuileries or the Louvre as the stars of heaven 
in the azure sky. The queen-mother wished and commanded 
her ladies always to appear in grand and superb apparel, 
though she herself during her widowhood never clothed herself 
in worldly silks, unless they were lugubrious, but always 
properly and so well-fitting that she looked the queen above 
all else. It is true that on the days of the weddings of 
her two sons Henri and Charles, she wore gowns of 
black velvet, wishing, she said, to solemnize the event by so 
signal an act. While she was married she always dressed 



very richly and superbly, and looked what she was. And it 
was fine to see and admire her in the general processions 
that were made, both in Paris and other cities, such as 
the Fete Dieu, that of the Kameaux [Palm Sunday], bear- 
ing palms and branches with such grace, and on Candlemas 
Day, when the torches were borne by all the Court, the 
flames of which contended against their own brilliancy. At 
these three processions, which are most solemn, we certainly 
saw nothing but beauty, grace, a noble bearing, a fine gait 
and splendid apparel, all of which dehghted the spectators. 

It was fine also to see the queen in her married life going 
through the country in her litter, being pregnant, or after- 
wards on horseback attended by forty or fifty ladies and 
damoiselles mounted on handsome hackneys well caparisoned, 
and sitting their horses with such good grace that the men 
could not do better, either in equestrian style or apparel ; 
their hats adorned with plumes which floated in the air as 
if demanding either love or war. Virgil, who took upon 
himself to write of the apparel of Queen Dido when she 
went to the chase, says nothing that approaches the luxury 
of that of our queen with her ladies, may it not displease 
her, as I think I have said elsewhere. 

This queen (made by the act of the great King Frangois), 
who introduced this beautiful pageantry, never forgot or let 
slip anything of the kind she had once learned, but always 
wanted to imitate or surpass it ; I have heard her speak three 
or four times in my life on this subject. Those who have 
seen things as I did still feel their souls enchanted like 
mine, for what I say is true ; I know it having seen it. 

So there is the Court of our queen. Unhappy was the day 
when she died ! I have heard teU that our present king 
[Henri IV.], some eighteen months after he saw himself 
more in hope and prospect of becoming King of France, 


began one day to discourse with the late M. le Mar^chal 
de Biron, on the plans and projects he would undertake to 
make his Court prosperous and fine and in all things Hke 
that of our said queen, for at that time it was in its greatest 
lustre and splendour. M. le mar^chal answered : " It is not 
in your power, nor in that of any king who will ever reign, 
unless you can manage with God that he shall resuscitate 
the queen-mother, and bring her round to you." But that 
was not what the king wanted, for when she died there was 
no one whom he hated so much, but without grounds, as I 
could see, and as he should have known better than I. 

How luckless was the day on which such a queen died, at 
the very point when we had such great necessity for her, and 
still have ! 

She died at Blois of sadness caused by the massacre which 
there took place, and the melancholy tragedy there played, 
seeing that, without reflection, she had brought the princes 
to Blois thinking to do well ; whereas it was true, as M. le 
Cardinal de Bourbon said to her : " Alas ! madame, you have 
led us all to butchery without intending it." That so touched 
her heart, and also the death of those poor men, that she took 
to her bed, having previously felt ill, and never rose again. 

They say that when the king announced to her the murder 
of M. de Guise, saying that he was now absolutely king, 
without equal, or master, she asked him if he had put the 
affairs of his kingdom in order before striking the blow. To 
which he answered yes. " God grant it, my son," she said. 
Very prudent that she was, she foresaw plainly what would 
happen to him, and to all the kingdom.^ 

Persons have spoken diversely as to her death, and even as 

1 Henri HI, convoked the States-General at Blois in 1588 ; the Due de 
Guise (Henri, le Balafre) was there assassinated, by the king's order, 
December 23, 1588 ; his brother, Cardinal de Bourbon, the next day. — Tk. 


to poison. Possibly it was so, possibly not; but slie was 
held to have died of desperation, and she had reason to 
do so. 

She was placed on her state-bed, as one of her ladies told 
me, neither more nor less like Queen Anne of whom I have 
already spoken, clothed in the same royal garments that the 
said Queen Anne wore, they not having served since her 
death for any others ; and thus she was borne to the church 
of the castle, with the same pomp and solemnity as Queen 
Anne, where she lies and rests stilL The king wished to 
take her to Chartres and thence to Saint-Denis, to put her 
with the king, her husband, in the same tomb which she had 
caused to be made, built, and constructed, so noble and 
superb, but the war which came on prevented it. 

This is what I can say at this time of this great queen, 
who has given assuredly such noble grounds to speak worthily 
of her that this short discourse is not enough for her praise. 
I know that well ; also that the quality of my speech does 
not suffice, for better speakers than I would be insufficient. 
At any rate, such as my discourse is, I lay it, in all humihty 
and devotion, at her feet ; also I would avoid too great pro- 
lixity, for which indeed I feel myself too capable ; but I hope 
I shall not separate from her much, although in my discourses 
I shall be silent, and only speak of what her noble and 
incomparable virtues command me, giving me ample matter 
so to do, I having seen all that I have written of her ; and as 
for what had happened before my time, I heard it fi'om persons 
most illustrious ; and thus I shall do in all my books. 

This queen, who was of many kings the mother, 
Of queens also, belonging here to France, 
Died when we had most need of her support ; 
For none but she could give us true assistance. 


M&eray [in his "History of France"], who never thinks 
of the dramatic, nevertheless makes known to us at the start 
his principal personages ; he shows them more especially in 
action, without detaching them too much from the general 
sentiment and interests of which they are the leaders and 
representatives, while, at the same time, he leaves to each his 
individual physiognomy. The old Conn^table de Mont- 
morency, the Guises, Admiral de Coligny, the Chancellor de 
I'Hopital define themselves on his pages by their conduct and 
proceedings even more than by the judgment he awards 
them. Catherine de' Medici is painted there in all her dis- 
simulation and her network of artifices, in which she was 
often caught herself ; ambitious of sovereign power without 
possessing either the force or the genius of it; striving to 
obtain it by craft, and using for this purpose a continual sys- 
tem of what we should call to-day see-sawing ; " rousing and 
elevating for a time one faction, putting to sleep or lowering 
another ; uniting herself sometimes with the feeblest side 
out of caution, lest the stronger should crush her ; sometimes 
with the stronger from necessity ; at times standing neutral 
when she felt herself strong enough to command both sides, 
but without intention to extinguish either." Far from being 
always too Cathohc, there are moments when she seems to 
lean to the Eeformed religion and to wish to grant too much 
to that party ; and this with more sincerity, perhaps, than 
belonged to her naturally. The Catherine de' Medici, such 
as she presents herself and is developed in plain truth on the 
pages of M^zeray is well calculated to tempt a modern writer. 
As there is nothing new but that which is old, for often dis- 
coveries are nothing more than that which was once known 
and is forgotten, the day when a modern historian shall take 
up the Catherine de' Medici of M^zeray and give her some 
of the rather forced features which are to the taste of the 


present day, there will come a great cry of astonishment and 
admiration, and the critics will register a new discovery.^ 

M. Niel, librarian to the ministry of the Interior, an en- 
lightened amateur of the arts and of history, has been 
engaged since 1848 in publishing a series of Portraits or 
" Crayons " of the celebrated personages of the sixteenth 
century, kings, queens, mistresses of kings, etc., the whole 
forming already a folio volume. M. Niel has applied him- 
self in this collection to reproduce none but authentic 
portraits and solely from the original, and he has confined 
himself to a single form of portraiture, that which was 
drawn in crayons of divers colours by artists of the sixteenth 
century. "They designated in those days by the name of 
* crayons,' " he observes, " certain portraits executed on paper 
in red chalk, in black lead, and in white chalk, shaded and 
touched in a way to present the effect of painting." These 
designs, faithfully reproduced, in which the red tone pre- 
dominates, are for the most part originally due to un- 
known artists, who seem to have belonged to the true 
French lineage of art. They resemble the humble com- 
panions and followers of our chroniclers who simply sought 
in their rajiid sketches to catch physiognomies, such as they 
saw them, with truth and candour ; the likeness alone con- 
cerned them. 

Frangois I. leads the procession with his obscure wives, 
and one, at least, of his obscure mistresses, the Comtesse de 
Chfltcaubriant. Henri II. succeeds him, giving one hand to 
Catherine de' Medici, the other to Diane de Poitiers. We 
are shown a Marie Stuart, young, before and after her widow- 

1 Honor^ dc Balzac's volume, in the Philosophical Scries of his " Com- 
edy of Iluiimn Lifo," on Catherine de' Medici, wliile called a romance, is 
really an adniirahle and carefully drawn historical portrait, and might be 
read to profit in connection with Brantome's account of her. — Tu. 


hood. In general, the men gain most from this rapid repro- 
duction of feature ; whereas with the women it needs an 
effort of the imagination to catch their dehcacy and the 
flower of their beauty. Charles IX. at twelve years of age, 
and again at eighteen and twenty, is there to the life and 
caught from nature. Henri IV. is shown to us younger and 
fresher than as we are wont to see him, — a Henri de Navarro 
quite novel and before his beard grizzled. His first wife. 
Marguerite de Valois, is portrayed at her most beauteous 
age, but so masked l)y her costume and cran)ped in her ruff 
that we need to be aware of her charm to be certain that the 
doll-like figure had any. Gabrielle d'Estrdes, who stands 
aloof, stiflly imprisoned in her gorgeous clothes, also needs 
explanation and reflection before she aj)pears what she really 
was. The testimony of " Notices " aids these portraits ; for 
M. Niel accompanies his personages with remarks made with 
erudition and an inquiring mind. 

One of the brief writings of that period which make 
known clearly tlie person and nature of HcTiri IV. is the 
Memoir of the first president of Normandy, Claude Groulard, 
at all times faithful to the king, who has left us a naive 
account of his frequent journeys to that prince and the so- 
journs he made with him. Among many remarks which 
Groulard has collected from the lips of Henri IV. there is 
one that paints the king well in his sound good sense, his 
freedom from rancour, and his knowledge — always practical, 
never ideal — of human beings. Groulard is relating the 
approaching marriage of the king with a princess of Florence. 
When Henri IV. announced it to him the worthy president 
replied by an erudite comparison with the lance of Achilles, 
saying that the Florentine house would thus repair the 
wounds it had given to France in the person of Catherine 
de' Medici. " But I ask you," said Henri IV., speaking there- 


upon of Catherine and excusing her, " I ask you what a poor 
woman could do, left by the death of her husband, with five 
little childron on her arms, and two families in France who 
were thinking to grasp the crown, — ours and the Guises. 
Was slio not compelled to play strange parts to deceive 
first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she has 
done, her sons, who have successively reigned through the 
wise conduct of that shrewd woman ? I am surprised that 
she never did worse." 

Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du Lundi (1855). 



Those who wish to write of this illustrious Queen of 
Scotland have two very ample subjects : one her life, the 
other her death ; both very ill accompanied by good fortune, 
as I shall show at certain points in this short Discourse in 
form of epitome, and not a long history, which I leave to 
be written by persons more learned and better given to 
writing than I. 

This queen had a father. King James, of worth and 
valour, and a very good Frenchman ; in which he was right. 
After he was widowed of Madame Magdelaine, daughter of 
France, he asked King Francois for some honourable and 
virtuous princess of his kingdom with whom to re-marry, 
desiring nothing so much as to continue his alhance with 

King Francois, not knowing whom to choose better to 
content the good prince, gave him the daughter of M. de 
Guise, Claude de Lorraine, then the widow of M. de Longue- 
ville, wise, virtuous, and honourable, of which King James 
was very glad and esteemed himself fortunate to take her ; 
and after he had taken and espoused her he found himself 
the same ; the kingdom of Scotland also, which she governed 
very wisely after she was widowed ; which event happened in 
a few years after her marriage, but not before she had pro- 
duced a fine issue, namely this most beautiful princess in 
the world, our queen, of whom I now speak, she being, as 


one might say, scarcely born and still at the breast, when the 
English invaded Scotland. Her mother was then forced to 
hide her from place to place in Scotland from fear of that 
fury ; and, without the good succour Xing Henri sent her 
she would scarce have been saved ; and even so they had to 
put her on vessels and expose her to the waves, the storms 
and winds of the sea and convey her to France for greater 
security ; where certainly ill fortune, not being able to 
cross the seas with her or not daring to attack her in France, 
left her so alone that good fortune took her by the hand. 
And, as her youth grew on, we saw her great beauty and her 
great virtues grow likewise ; so that, coming to her fifteenth 
year, her beauty shone like the light at mid-day, effacing the 
sun when it shines the brightest, so beauteous was her body. 
As for her soul, that was equal ; she had made herself 
learned in Latin, so that, being between thirteen and four- 
teen years of ago, she declaimed before King Henri, the 
queen, and all the Court, publicly in the hall of the LomTe, 
an harangue in Latin, which she had made herself, main- 
taining and defending, against common opinion, that it was 
well becoming to women to know letters and the liberal 
arts. Think what a rare thing and admirable it was, to see 
this wise and beautiful young queen thus orate in Latin, 
which slie knew and understood right well, for I was there 
and saw her. Also she made Antoine Fochain, of Chauny 
in Vermandois, prepare for her a rhetoric in l^-ench, which 
still exists, tliat she might the better understand it, and 
make herself as eloquent in French as she had been in 
Latin, and better than if she had been born in France. It 
was good to see her speak to every one, whether to great or 

As long as she lived in France she ahvays reserved two 
hours daily to study and read ; so that there was no human 

,_yp/y^' r/r - y//rr/r/ 


knowledge she could not talk upon. Above all, she loved 
poesy and poets, but especially M. de Eonsard, M. du Bellay, 
and M. de Maison-Fleur,^ who all made beautiful poems and 
elegies upon her, and also upon her departure from France, 
which I have often seen her reading to herself, in France and 
in Scotland, with tears in her eyes and sighs from her 

She was a poet herself and composed verses, of which I 
have seen some that were fine and well done and in no wise 
resembhng those they have laid to her account on her love 
for the Earl of Bothwell, which are too coarse and too ill- 
polished to have come from her beautiful making. M. de 
Eonsard was of my opinion as to this one day when we were 
reading and discussing them. Those she composed were far 
more beautiful and dainty, and quickly done, for I have 
often seen her retire to her cabinet and soon return to show 
them to such of us good folk as were there present. More- 
over she wrote well in prose, especially letters, of which I 
have seen many that were very fine and eloquent and lofty. 
At all times when she talked with others she used a most 
gentle, dainty, and agreeable style of speech, with kindly 
majesty, mingled, however, with discreet and modest reserve, 
and above all with beautiful grace ; so that even her native 
tongue, which in itself is very rustic, barbarous, ill-sounding, 
and uncouth, she spoke so gracefully, toning it in such a way, 
that she made it seem beautiful and agreeable in her, though 
never so in others. 

See what virtue there was in such beauty and grace that 
they could turn coarse barbarism into sweet civility and 
social grace. We must not be surprised therefore that be- 
ing dressed (as I have seen her) in the barbarous costume 
of the uncivilized people of her country, she appeared, in 

1 See Appendix. 


mortal body and coarse ungainly clothing a true goddess. 
Those who have seen her thus dressed will admit this truth ; 
and those who did not see her can look at her portrait, in 
which she is thus attii-ed. I have heard the queen-mother, 
and the king too, say that she looked more beautiful, more 
agreeable, more desirable in that picture than in any of the 
others. But how else could she look, whether in her beauti- 
ful rich jewels, in French or Spanish style, or wearing her 
Italian caps, or in her mourning garments ? — which latter 
made her most beautiful to see, for the whiteness of her 
face contended with the whiteness of her veil as to which 
should carry the day ; but the texture of her veil lost it ; 
the snow of her pure face dimmed the other, so that when 
she appeared at Court in her mourning the following song 
was made upon her : — 

" L'on voit, sous blanc atour 
En grand deuil et tristesse, 
Se pourmener mainct tour 
De beaute la deese, 
Tenant le trait en main 
De son fils inliumain ; 

" Et Amour, sans f ronteau, 
Voletter autour d'elle, 
Desguisant son bandeau 
En un f unebre voile, 
Oil sont ces mots ecrits : 
Mourir ou t/rejam."^ 

That is how this princess appeared under all fashions of 
clothes, whether barbarous, worldly, or austere. She had 
also one other perfection with which to charm the world, — a 
voice most sweet and excellent ; for she sang well, attuning 
her voice to the lute, which she touched very prettily with 
that white hand and those beautiful fingers, perfectly made, 
1 See Appendix. 


yielding in notliing to those of Aurora. What more remains 
to tell of her beauty ? — if not this saying about her : that the 
sun of her Scotland was very unlike her, for on certain days 
of the year it shines but five hours, while she shone ever, so 
that her clear rays illumined her land and her people, who of 
all others needed Hght, being far estranged from the sun of 
heaven. Ah ! kingdom of Scotland, I think your days are 
shorter now than they ever were, and your nights the longer, 
since you have lost the princess who illumined you ! But 
you have been ungrateful ; you never recognized your duty 
of fidehty, as you should have done ; which I shall speak of 

This lady and princess pleased France so much that King 
Henri was urged to give her in alliance to the dauphin, his 
beloved son, who, for his part, was madly in love with her. 
The marriage was therefore solemnly celebrated in the great 
church and the palace of Paris ; where we saw this queen 
appear more beauteous than a goddess from the skies, 
whether in the morning, going to her espousals in noble 
majesty, or leading, after dinner, at the ball, or advancing in 
the evening with modest steps to offer and perform her vows 
to Hymen ; so that the voice of all as one man resounded 
and proclaimed throughout the Court and the great city that 
happy a hundredfold was he, the prince, thus joined to such 
a princess ; and even if Scotland were a thing of price its 
queen out-valued it ; for had she neither crown nor sceptre, 
her person and her glorious beauty were worth a kingdom ; 
therefore, being a queen, she brought to France and to her 
husband a double fortune. 

This was what the world went saying of her ; and for this 
reason she was called queen-dauphine and her husband the 
king-dauphin, they living together in great love and pleasant 


Next, King Henri dying, they came to be King and Queen 
of France, the king and queen of two great kingdoms, happy, 
and most happy in themselves, had death not seized the king 
and left her widowed in the sweet April of her finest youth, 
having enjoyed together of love and pleasure and felicity but 
four short years, — a felicity indeed of short duration, which 
evil fortune might well have spared ; but no, malignant as 
she is, she wished to miserably treat this princess, who made 
a song herself upon her sorrows in this wise : — 

En mon triste et doux chant, 
D'un ton fort lamentable, 
Je jette un deuil tranchant, 
De perte incomparable, 
Et en soupirs cuisans, 
Passe mes meilleurs ans. 

Fut-il un tel malheur 
De dure destinee, 
N'y si triste douleur 
De dame f ortunee, 
Qui mon coeur et mon ceil 
Vols en bierre et cercueil, 

Qui en mon doux printemps 
Et fleur de ma jeunesse, 
Toutes les peines sens 
D'une extresme tristesse, 
Et en rien n'ay plaisir 
Qu'en regret et desir ? 

Ce qui m'estoit plaisant 
Ores m'est peine dure; 
Le jour le plus luisant 
M'est nuit noire et obscure. 
Et n'est rien si exquis 
Qui de moy soit requis. 

J'ay au coeur et k Vosil 
Un portrait et image 


Qui figure mon deuil 
Et mon pasle visage, 
De violettes teint, 
Qui est ramoureux teint. 

Pour mon mal estranger 
Je ne m'arreste en place ; 
Mais j'en ay beau changer, 
Si ma douleur n'efface ; 
Car mon pis et mon mieux 
Sont les plus deserts lieux. 

Si en quelque sejour, 
Soit en bois ou en pr^e. 
Soit sur I'aube du jour, 
Ou soit sur la, vespree, 
Sans cesse mon coeur sent 
Le regret d'un absent. 

Si parfois vers les cieux 
Viens h dresser ma veue, 
Le doux traict de ses yeux 
Je vols en une nue ; 
Ou bien je le vols en I'eau, 
Comme dans un tombeau. 

Si je suis en repos 
Sommeillant sur ma coucbe, 
J'oy qu'il me tient propos, 
Je le sens qui me touche : 
En labeur, en recoy 
Tousjours est prfes de moy. 

Je ne vols autre object, 
Pour beau qu'il presente 
A qui que soit subject, 
Oncques mon coeur consente, 
Exempt de perfection 
A cette affection. 

Mets, chanson, icy fin 
A si triste complainte, 


Dont sera le refrein : 
Amour vraye et non feinte 
Pour la separation 
N'aui-a diminution.! 

Such are tlie regrets which this sad queen went piteously 
singing, and manifesting even more by her pale face ; for, from 
the time she became a widow, I never saw her colour return 
during the time I had the honour to see her in France and 
in Scotland ; whither at the end of eighteen months she was 
forced to go, to her great regret, to pacify her kingdom, 
much divided on account of rehgion. Alas ! she had neither 
wish nor will to go. I have often heard her say she dreaded 
that journey hke death ; and preferred a hundredfold to stay 
in France a simple dowager, and would content herself 
with Touraine and Poitou for her dowry, rather than go to 
reign in her savage country; but messieurs her uncles, at 
least some of them, but not all, advised her, indeed they 
urged her (I will not tell the occasions), for which they have 
since repented sorely. 

As to this, there is no doubt that if, at her departure King 
Charles, her husband's brother, had been of age to marry, 
and not so small and young (though much in love with her, 
as I have seen), he would never have let her go, but resolutely 
would have wedded her ; for I have seen him so in love 
that never did he look upon her portrait that his eyes were 
not fixed and ravished, as though he could not take them 
from it nor yet be satisfied. And often have I heard him 
call her the most beauteous princess ever born into the 
world, and say how he thought the king, his brother, too 
happy to have enjoyed the love of such a princess, and that 
he ought in no wise to regret his death in the tomb since he 
had possessed in this world such beauty and pleasure for 

^ See Appendix. 


the little time lie stayed here ; and also that such happiness 
was worth a kiagdom. So that had she remained in France 
he would surely have wedded her ; he was resolved upon it, 
although she was his sister-in-law, but the pope would never 
have refused the dispensation, seeing that he had already in 
like case granted one to his own subject, M. de Lov^, and 
also to the Marquis d'Aguilar in Spain, and many others in 
that country, where they make no difficulty in maintaining 
their estates and do not waste and dissipate them, as we 
do in France. 

Much discourse on this subject have I heard from him, 
and from many, which I shall omit, not to wander from the 
topic of our queen, who was at last persuaded, as I have 
said, to return to her kingdom of Scotland ; but her voyage 
being postponed till the spring she did so much to delay it 
from month to month that she did not depart until the end 
of the month of August. I must mention that this spring, 
in which she thought to leave, came so tardily, and was so 
cold and grievous, that in the month of April it gave no 
sign of donning its beautiful green robe or its lovely flowers. 
On which the gallants of the Court augured and proclaimed 
that the spring had changed its pleasant season for a hard 
and grievous winter, and would not wear its beauteous 
colours or its verdure because it mourned the departure of 
this sweet queen, who was its lustre. M. de Maison-Fleur, 
a charming knight for letters and for arms, made on that 
theme a most fine elegy. 

The begitming of the autumn having come, the queen, 
after thus delaying, was forced to abandon France ; and 
having travelled by land to Calais, accompanied by all her 
uncles, M. de Nemours, most of the great and honourable 
of the Court, together with the ladies, like Mme. de Guise 
and others, all regretting and weeping hot tears for the loss 



of such a queen, she found m port two galleys : one that of 
M. de Mevillon, the other that of Captain Albise, with two 
convoying vessels for sole armament. After six days' rest at 
Calais, having said her piteous farewells all full of sighs to 
the great company about her, from the greatest to the 
least, she embarked, having her uncles with her. Messieurs 
d'Aumale, the grand prior, and d'Elbceuf, and M. d'Amville 
(now M. le Conndtable), together with many of us, all nobles, 
on board the galley of M. de Mevillon, as being the best and 

As the vessel began to leave the port, the anchor being up, 
we saw, in the open sea, a vessel sink before us and perish, 
and many of the sailors drown for not having taken the 
channel rightly ; on seeing which the queen cried out in- 
continently : " Ah, my God ! what an omen is this for my 
journey!" The galley being now out of port and a fresh 
wind rising, we began to make sail, and the comdcts rested 
on their oars. The queen, without thinking of other action, 
leaned her two arms on the poop of the galley, beside the 
rudder, and burst into tears, casting her beauteous eyes to 
the port and land she had left, saying ever these sad 
words : " Adieu, France ! adieu, France ! " — repeatmg them 
again and again; and this sad exercise she did for nearly 
five hours, until the night began to fall, when they asked 
her if she would not come away from there and take some 
supper. On that, her tears redoubling, she said these words : 
" This is indeed the hour, my dear France, when I must 
lose you from sight, because the gloomy night, envious of 
my content in seeing you as long as I am able, hangs a 
black veil before mine eyes to rob me of that joy. Adieu, 
then, my dear France ; I shall see you nevermore ! " 

Then she retired, saying she had done the contrary of 
Dido, who looked to the sea when ^Eneas left her, while she 


had looked to land. She wished to lie down without eating 
more than a salad, and as she would not descend into the 
cabin of the poop, they brought her bed and set it up on 
the deck of the poop, where she rested a little, but did not 
cease her sighs and tears. She commanded the steersman 
to wake her as soon as it was day if he saw or could even 
just perceive the coasts of France, and not to fear to call her. 
In this, fortune favoured her ; for the wind having ceased 
and the vessel having again had recourse to oars, but little 
way was made during the night, so that when day appeared 
the shores of France could still be seen ; and the steersman 
not having failed to obey her, she rose in her bed and gazed 
at France again, and as long as she could see it. But the 
galley now receding, her contentment receded too, and again 
she said those words : " Adieu, my France ; I think that I 
shall never see you more." 

Did she desire, this once, that an English armament (with 
which we were threatened) should appear and constraia her 
to give up her voyage and return to the port she had left ? 
But if so, God in that would not favour her wishes, for, with- 
out further hindrance of any kind we reached Petit-Lict 
[Leith]. Of the voyage I must tell a little incident : the first 
evening after we embarked, the Seigneur Chastellard (the 
same who was afterwards executed for presumption, not for 
crime, as I shall tell), being a charming cavaher, a man of 
good sword and good letters, said this pretty thing when he 
saw them lighting the binnacle lamp : " There is no need of 
that lamp or this torch to light us by sea, for the eyes of our 
queen are dazzling enough to flash their fine fires along the 
waves and illume them, if need be." 

I must note that the day before we arrived at Scotland, 
being a Sunday, so great a fog arose that we could not see from 
the poop to the mast of the galley ; at which the pilot and the 


overseers of the galley-slaves were mucli confounded, — so 
much so, that out of necessity we had to cast anchor in open 
sea, and take soundings to know where we were. The fog 
lasted all one day and all the night until eight o'clock on the 
following morning, when we found ourselves surrounded by 
innumerable reefs ; so that had we gone forward, or even to 
one side, the ship would have struck and we should have 
perished. On which the queen said that, for her part, she 
should not have cared, wishing for nothing so much as death ; 
but that not for her whole kingdom of Scotland would she 
have wished it or willed it for others. Having now sighted 
and seen (for the fog had risen) the coast of Scotland, there 
were some among us who augured and predicted upon the 
said fog, that it boded we were now to land in a quarrel- 
some, mischief-making, unpleasant kingdom [royaumc hroto~ 
ille, hrouillon, et mal plaisant]. 

We entered and cast anchor at Petit-Lict, where the prin- 
cipal persons of that place and Islebourg [Edinburgh] were 
gathered to meet their queen ; and then, having sojourned at 
Petit-Lict only two hours, it was necessary to continue our 
way to Islebourg, which was barely a league farther. The 
queen went on horseback, and the ladies and seigneurs on 
nags of the country, such as they were, and saddled and 
bridled the same. On seeing which accoutrements the queen 
began to weep and say that these were not the pomps, the 
dignities, the magnificences, nor yet the superb horses of 
Prance, which she had enjoyed so long ; but since she must 
change her paradise for hell, she must needs take patience. 
And what is worse was that when she went to bed, being 
lodged on the lower floor of the abbey of Islebourg [Holy- 
rood], which is certainly a noble building and is not hke the 
country, there came beneath her window some five or six 
hundred scoundrels of the town, who gave her a serenade 


with wretched violins and little rebecks (of which there is 
no lack in Scotland), to which they chanted psalms so badly 
sung and so out of tune that nothing could be worse. Ha ! 
what music and what repose for her first night ! 

The next morning they would have killed her chaplain in 
front of her lodging ; had he not escaped quickly into her 
chamber he was dead ; they would have done to him as they 
did later to her secretary David [Eiccio] whom, because he 
was clever, the queen Hked for the management of her affairs ; 
but they killed him in her room, so close to her that the 
blood spurted upon her gown and he fell dead at her feet. 
What an indignity ! But they did many other indignities to 
her ; therefore must we not be astonished if they spoke ill of 
her. On this attempt being made against her chaplain she 
became so sad and vexed that she said : " This is a fine be- 
ginning of obedience and welcome from my subjects ! I know 
not what may be the end, but I foresee it will be bad." 
Thus the poor princess showed herself a second Cassandra in 
prophecy as she was in beauty. 

Being now there, she lived about three years very dis- 
creetly in her widowhood, and would have continued to do 
so, but the Parliament of her kingdom begged her and en- 
treated her to marry, in order that she might leave them a 
fine king conceived by her, like him of the present day 
[James I]. There are some who say that, during the first 
wars, the King of Navarre desired to marry her, repudiating 
the queen his wife, on account of the Eeligion ; but to this 
she would not consent, saying she had a soul, and would not 
lose it for all the grandeurs of the world, — making great 
scruple of espousing a married man. 

At last she wedded a young English lord, of a great house, 
but not her equal [Henry Damley, Earl of Lennox, her 
cousin]. The marriage was not happy for either the one or 


the other. I shall not here relate how the king her husband, 
havmg made her a very fine child, who reigns to-day, died, 
being killed by a fougade [small mine] exploded where he 
lodged. The history of that is written and printed, but not 
with truth as to the accusations raised against the queen of 
consenting to the deed. They are lies and insults ; for never 
was that queen cruel ; she was always kind and very gentle. 
Never in France did she any cruelty, nor would she take 
pleasure or have the heart to see poor criminals put to death 
by justice, like many grandees whom I have known ; and 
when she was in her galley never would she allow a single 
convict to be beaten, were it ever so little ; she begged her 
uncle, the grand-prior, as to this, and commanded it to the 
overseer herself, having great compassion for their misery, 
so that her heart was sick for it. 

To end this topic, never did cruelty lodge in the heart of 
such great and tender beauty ; they are liars who have said 
and written it ; among others M. Buchanan,^ who ill returned 
the kindnesses the queen had done him both in France and 
Scotland in saving his life and relieving him from banish- 
ment. It would have been better had he employed his most 
excellent knowledge in speaking better of her, and not about 
the amours of Bothwell ; even to transcribing sonnets she had 
made, which those who knew her poesy and her learning 
have always said were never written by her ; nor did they 
judge less falsely that amour, for Bothwell was a most ugly 
man, with as bad a grace as could be seen. 

But if this one [Buchanan] said no good, others have 
written a noble book upon her innocence, which I have 
seen, and which declared and proved it so that the poorest 
minds took hold of it and even her enemies paid heed ; but 

1 George Buchanan, historian and Scotch poet, who wrote libels and 
calumnies against Marie Stuart in prison. (French editor.) 


they, wishing to ruin her, as they did in the end, were obsti- 
nate, and never ceased to persecute her until she was put 
into a strong castle, which they say is that of Saint- Andrew 
in Scotland. There, having lived nearly one year miserably 
captive, she was dehvered by means of a most honourable 
and brave gentleman of that land and of good family, named 
M. de Beton, whom I knew and saw, and who related to 
me the whole story, as we were crossing the river before the 
Louvre, when he came to bring the news to the king. He 
was nephew to the Bishop of Glasco, ambassador to France, 
one of the most worthy men and prelates ever known, and 
who remained a faithful servant to his mistress to her last 
breath, and is so still, after her death. 
' So then, the queen, being at liberty, did not stay idle ; 
in less than no time she gathered an army of those whom 
she thought her most faithful adherents, leading it herself, — 
at its head, mounted on a good horse, dressed in a simple 
petticoat of white taffetas, with a coif of crepe on her head ; 
at which I have seen many persons wonder, even the queen- 
mother, that so tender a princess, and so dainty as she was 
and had been aU her life, should accustom herself at once 
to the hardships of war. But what would one not endure 
to reign absolutely and revenge one's self upon a rebellious 
people, and reduce it to obedience ? 

Behold this queen, therefore, beautiful and generous, like 
a second Zenobia, at the head of her army, leading it on to 
face that of her enemies and to give battle. But alas ! what 
misfortune ! Just as she thought her side would engage the 
others, just as she was animating and exhorting them with 
her noble and valorous words, which might have moved the 
rocks, they raised their lances without fighting, and, first on 
one side and then upon another, threw down their arms, em- 
braced, and were friends ; and all, confederated and sworn 


together, plotted to seize the queen, and make her prisoner 
and take her to England, M. Coste, the steward of her 
household, a gentleman of Auvergne, related this to the 
queen-mother, having come from there, and met her at 
Saiut-Maur, where he told it also to many of us. 

After this she was taken to England, where she was 
lodged in a castle and so closely confined in captivity that 
she never left it for eighteen or twenty years until her 
death ; to which she was sentenced too cruelly for the 
reasons, such as they were, that were given on her trial; 
but the principal, as I hold on good authority, was that the 
Queen of England never liked her, but was always and for 
a long time jealous of her beauty, which far surpassed her 
own. That is what jealousy is ! — and for rehgion too ! So 
it was that this princess, after her long imprisonment, was 
condemned to death and to have her head cut oJEf; this 
judgment was pronounced upon her two months before she 
was executed. Some say that she knew nothing of it until 
they went to execute her. Others declare that it was told 
to her two months earlier, as the queen-mother, who was 
greatly distressed, was informed at Coignac, where she then 
was ; and she was even told of this particular : no sooner 
was the judgment pronounced than Queen Marie's chamber 
and bed were hung with black. The queen-mother thereon 
praised the firmness of the Queen of Scotland and said she 
had never seen or heard tell of any queen more steadfast 
in adversity. I was present when she said this, but I never 
thought the Queen of England would let her die, — not 
esteeming her so cruel as all that. Of her own nature she 
was not (though she was in this). I also thought that M. 
de Belhfevi-e, whom the king despatched to save her life, 
would have worked out something good ; nevertheless, he 
gained notlung. 


But to come to this pitiful death, which no one can 
describe without great compassion. On the seventeenth of 
February of the year one thousand five hundred and eighty- 
seven, there came to the place where the queen was prisoner, 
a castle called Fodringhaye, the commissioners of the 
Queen of England, sent by her (I shall not give their names, 
as it would serve no end) about two or three o'clock in the 
afternoon ; and in presence of Paulet, her guardian or jailer, 
read aloud their commission to the prisoner touching her 
execution, declaring to her that the next morning they should 
proceed to it, and admonishing her to be ready between seven 
and eight o'clock. 

She, without in any way being surprised, thanked them 
for their good news, saying that nothing could be better 
for her than to come to the end of her misery ; and that for 
long, ever since her detention in England, she had resolved 
and prepared herself to die; entreating, nevertheless, the 
commissioners to grant her a little time and leisure to make 
her will and put her affairs in order, — inasmuch as all de- 
pended upon their will, as their commission said. To which 
the Comte de Cherusbery [Earl of Shrewsbury] replied 
rather roughly : " No, no, madame, you must die. Hold 
yourself ready between seven and eight to-morrow morning. 
We shall not prolong the delay by a moment." There was 
one, more courteous it seemed to her, who wished to use 
some demonstrations that might give her more firmness to 
endure such death. She answered him that she had no need 
of consolation, at least not as coming from him ; but that if 
he wished to do a good office to her conscience he would 
send for her almoner to confess her ; which would be an 
obligation that surpassed all others. As for her body, she 
said she did not think they would be so inhuman as to 
deny her the right of sepulture. To this he replied that 


she must not expect it ; so that she was forced to "vrrite her 
confession, which was as follows : — 

" I have to-day been combated for my rehgion and to make 
me receive the consolation of heretics. You will hear from 
Bourgoing and others that I have faithfully made protesta- 
tion of my faith, hi which I choose to die. I requested to 
have you here, to make my confession and to receive my 
sacrament ; this has been cruelly refused to me, also the 
removal of my body, and the power to freely make my will, 
or to write aught, except through their hands. In default 
of that, I confess the grievousness of my sins in general, 
as I had expected to make to you in particulars ; entreating 
you, in God's name, to watch and pray with me this night 
for the forgiveness of my sins, and to send me absolution 
and pardon for all the offences which I have committed. I 
shall endeavour to see you in their presence, as they have 
granted me ; and if it is permitted I shall ask pardon of you 
before them all. Advise me of the proper prayers to use 
this night and to-morrow morning, for the time is short and 
I have no leisure to write ; I shall recommend you like the 
rest, and especially that your benefices may be preserved and 
secured to you, and I shall commend you to the king. I 
have no more leisure ; advise me in writing of all you think 
good for my salvation." 

That done, and having thus provided for the salvation of 
her soul before all things else, she lost no time, though 
little remained to her (yet long enough to have shaken the 
firmest constancy, but in her they saw no fear of death, only 
much content to leave these earthly miseries), in writing to 
our king, to the queen-mother, whom she honoured much, 
to Monsieur and Madame de Guise, and other private per- 
sons, letters truly very piteous, but all aiming to let them 
know that to her latest hour she had not lost memory of 


friends ; and also the contentment she received in seeing 
herself delivered from so many woes by which for one and 
twenty years she had been crushed ; also she sent presents 
to all, of a value and price in keeping with a poor, unfortu- 
nate, and captive queen. 

After this, she summoned her household, from the highest 
to the lowest, and opened her coffers to see how much money 
remained to her ; this she divided to each according to the 
service she had had from them ; and to her women she 
gave what remained to her of rings, arrows, headgear, and 
accoutrements; telling them that it was with much regret 
she had no more with which to reward them, but assuring 
them that her son would make up for her deficiency ; and 
she begged her maitre d'hotel to say this to her said son ; 
to whom she sent her blessing, praying him not to avenge 
her death, leaving all to God to order according to His holy 
will. Then she bade them farewell without a tear ; on the 
contrary she consoled them, saying they must not weep to 
see her on the point of blessedness in exchange for all the 
sorrows she had had. After which she sent them from her 
chamber, except her women. 

It now being night, she retired to her oratory, where she 
prayed to God two hours on her bare knees upon the ground, 
for her women saw them ; then she returned to her room 
and said to them : " I think it would be best, my friends, if 
I ate something and went to bed, so that to-morrow I may 
do nothing unworthy of me, and that my heart may not 
fail me." What generosity and what courage ! She did 
as she said ; and taking only some toast with wine she went 
to bed, where she slept little, but spent the night chiefly 
in prayers and orisons. 

She rose about two hours before dawn and dressed her- 
self as properly as she could, and better than usual ; taking 


a gown of black velvet, which she had reserved from her 
other accoutrements, saying to her women : " My friends, I 
would rather have left you this attire than that of yesterday, 
but I think I ought to go to death a little honourably and 
have upon me something more than common. Here is a 
handkercliief, which I also reserved, to bind my eyes when 
I go there ; I give it to you, ma mie (speaking to one of her 
women), for I wish to receive that last office from you." 

After this, she retired to her oratory, having bid them 
adieu once more and kissed them, — giving them many par- 
ticulars to tell the king, the queen, and her relations ; not 
things that tended to vengeance, but the contrary. Then 
she took the sacrament by means of a consecrated wafer 
which the good Pope Pius V. had sent her to serve in some 
emergency, the which she had always most sacredly pre- 
served and guarded. 

Having said her prayers, which were very long, it now 
being fully morning she returned to her chamber, and sat 
beside the fire ; still talking to her women and comforting 
them, instead of their comforting her ; she said that the 
joys of the world were nothing ; that she ought to serve as 
a warning to the greatest of the earth as well as to the 
smallest, for she, having been queen of the kingdoms of 
France and Scotland, one by nature, the other by fortune, 
after triumpliing in the midst of all honours and grandeurs, 
was reduced to the hands of an executioner ; innocent, how- 
ever, which consoled her. She told them their best pattern 
was that she died in the Catholic religion, holy and good, 
which she would never abandon to her latest breath, having 
been baptized therein ; and that she wanted no fame after 
her death, except that they would pubhsh her firmness 
throughout all France when they returned there, as she 
begged of them ; and further, though she knew they would 


have much heart-break to see her on the scaffold performing 
this tragedy, yet she wished them to witness her death; 
knowing well that none would be so faithful in making the 
report of what was now to happen. 

As she ended these words some one knocked roughly on 
the door. Her women, knowing it was the hour they were 
coming to fetch her, wanted to make resistance ; but she said 
to them : " My friends, it will do no good ; open the door." 

First there entered a man with a white stick in his hand, 
who, without addressing any one, said twice over as he ad- 
vanced : " I have come — I have come." The queen, not 
doubting that he announced to her the moment of execu- 
tion, took a little ivory cross in her hand. 

Next came the above-named commissioners ; and when 
they had entered, the queen said to them : " Well, messieurs, 
you have come to fetch me. I am ready and well resolved 
to die ; and I think the queen, my good sister, does much 
for me ; and you likewise who are seeking me. Let us go." 
They, seeing such firmness accompanied by so extreme a 
beauty and great gentleness, were much astonished, for never 
had she seemed more beautiful, having a colour in her 
cheeks which embellished her. 

Thus Boccaccio wrote of Sophonisba in her adversity, after 
the taking of her husband and the town, speaking to Massi- 
nissa : " You would have said," he relates, " that her misfor- 
tune made her more beauteous ; it assisted the sweetness of 
her face and made it more agreeable and desirable." 

The commissioners were greatly moved to some compas- 
sion. Still, as she left the room they would not let her 
women follow her, fearing that by their lamentations, sighs, 
and outcries they would disturb the execution. But the 
queen said to them : " What, gentlemen ! would you treat 
me with such rigour as not to allow my women to accom- 


pany me to death ? Grant me at least this favour." "WTiich 
they did, on her pledging her word she would impose silence 
upon them when the time came to admit them. 

The place of execution was in the hall, where they had 
raised a broad scaffold, about twelve feet square and two 
high, covered with a shabby black cloth. 

She entered this hall without any change of countenance 
but with majesty and grace, as though she were entering a 
ballroom, where in other days she had so excellently shone. 

As she neared the scaffold she called to her maitre d'hotel 
and said, " Help me to mount ; it is the last service I shall 
receive from you ; " and she repeated to him what she had 
already told him in her chamber he was to tell her son. 
Then, being on the scaffold, she asked for her almoner, beg- 
ging the officers who were there to permit him to come to 
her, which they flatly refused, — the Earl of Kent saying to 
her that he pitied her greatly for thus clinging to super- 
stitions of a past age, and that she ought to bear the cross of 
Christ in her heart and not in her hand. To which she made 
answer that it was difficult to bear so beautiful an image in 
the hand without the heart being touched by emotion and 
memory ; and that the most becoming thing in a Christian 
person was to carry a real sign of the redemption to the 
death before her. Then, seeing that she could not have her 
almoner, she asked that her women might come as they had 
promised her ; which was done. One of them, on entering 
the hall, seeing her mistress on the scaffold among her execu- 
tioners, could not keep from crying out and moaning and 
losing her control ; but the queen instantly laying her finger 
on her Ups, she restrained herself. 

Her Majesty then began to make her protestations, namely : 
that never had she plotted against the State, nor against the 
life of the queen, her good sister, — except in trying to regain 


her liberty, as all captives may. But she saw plainly that 
the cause of her death was religion, and she esteemed herseK 
very happy to finish her Hfe for that cause. She begged 
the queen, her good sister, to have pity upon her poor ser- 
vants whom she held captive, because of the affection they 
had shown in seeking the liberty of their mistress, inasmuch 
as she was now to die for all. 

They then brought to her a minister to exhort her [the 
Dean of Peterborough], but she said to him in English, 
" Ah ! my friend, give yourself patience ; " declaring that she 
would not hold converse with him nor hear any talk of his 
sect, for she had prepared herself to die without counsel, and 
that persons like him could not give her consolation or con- 
tentment of mind. 

Notwithstanding this, seeing that he continued his prayers 
in his jargon, she never ceased to say her own in Latin, 
raising her voice above that of the minister. After which 
she said again that she esteemed herself very happy to shed 
the last drop of her blood for her religion, rather than live 
longer and wait till nature had completed the full course of 
her life ; and that she hoped in Him whose cross she held in 
her hand, before whose feet she was prostrate, that this tem- 
poral death, borne for Him, would be for her the passage, the 
entrance to, and the beginning of life eternal with the angels 
and the blessed, who would receive her blood and present it 
before God, in abohtion of her sins ; and them she prayed 
to be her intercessors for the obtaining of pardon and mercy. 

Such were her prayers, being on her knees on the scaffold, 
which she made with a fervent heart ; adding others for the 
pope, the kings of France, and even for the Queen of England, 
praying God to illuminate her with his Holy Spirit ; praying 
also for her son and for the islands of Britain and Scotland 
that they might be converted. 


That done, she called her women to help her to remove 
her black veil, her headdress, and other ornaments ; and as 
the executioner tried to touch her she said, "Ah ! my friend, 
do not touch me ! " But she could not prevent his doing so, 
for after they had lowered her robe to the waist, that villain 
pulled her roughly by the arm and took off her doublet 
[pourpoint] and the body of her petticoat [corps de cotte] with 
its low collar, so that her neck and her beautiful bosom, more 
white than alabaster, were bare and uncovered. 

She arranged herself as quickly as she could, saying she 
was not accustomed to strip before others, especially so large 
a company (it is said there were four or five hundred persons 
present), nor to employ the services of such a valet. 

The executioner then knelt down and asked her pardon ; 
on which she said that she pardoned him, and all who were 
the authors of her death with as much good-will as she 
prayed that God would show in forgiving her sins. 

Then she told her woman to whom she had given the 
handkerchief to bring it to her. 

She wore a cross of gold, in which was a piece of the true 
cross, with the image of Our Saviour upon it ; this she wished 
to give to one of her ladies, but the executioner prevented 
her, although Her Majesty begged him, saying that the lady 
would pay him three times its value. 

Then, all being ready, she kissed her ladies, and bade them 
retire with her benediction, making the sign of the cross upon 
them. And seeing that one of them could not restrain her 
sobs she imposed silence, saying she was bound by a promise 
that they would cause no trouble by their tears and moans ; 
and she commanded them to withdraw quietly, and pray to 
God for her, and bear faithful testimony to her death in the 
ancient and sacred CathoUc rehgion. 

One of the women having bandaged her eyes with the 


handkerchief, she threw herself instantly on her knees with 
great courage and without the slightest demonstration or sign 
that she feared death. 

Her firmness was such that all present, even her enemies, 
were moved ; there were not four persons present who could 
keep from weeping ; they thought the sight amazing, and 
condemned themselves in their consciences for such injustice. 

And because the minister of Satan importuned her, trying 
to kill her soul as well as her body, and troubhng her prayers, 
she raised her voice to surmount his, and said in Latin the 
psalm : In te, Domine, speravi ; non confundar in ceternum ; 
which she recited throughout. Having ended it, she laid her 
head upon the block, and, as she repeated once more the 
words. In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, 
the executioner struck her a strong blow with the axe, that 
drove her headgear into her head, which did not fall until the 
third blow, — to make her martyrdom the greater and more 
glorious, though it is not the pain but the cause that makes 
the martyr. 

This done, he took the head in his hand, and showing it to 
all present said : " God save the queen, Elizabeth ! Thus 
perish the enemies of the gospel ! " So saying, he uncoifed 
her in derision to show her hair, now white ; which, however, 
she had never shrunk from showing, twisting and curhng it 
as when her hair was beautiful, so fair and golden ; for it was 
not age had changed it at thirty-five years old (being now 
but forty) ; it was the griefs, the woes, the sadness she had 
borne in her kingdom and in her prison. 

This hapless tragedy ended, her poor ladies, anxious for 
the honour of their mistress, addressed themselves to Paulet, 
her jailer, begging him that the executioner should not touch 
the body, but that they might be allowed to disrobe it after 
all the spectators had withdrawn, so that no indignity might 



be done to it, promising to return all the clothing, and what- 
ever else he might ask or claim ; but that cursfed man sent 
them roughly away and ordered them to leave the hall. 

Then the executioner unclothed her and handled her at his 
discretion, and when he had done what he wished the body 
was carried to a chamber adjoining that of her serving-men, 
and carefully locked in, for fear they should enter and en- 
deavour to perform any good and pious office. And to their 
grief and distress was added this : that they could see her 
through a hole, half covered by a piece of green drugget torn 
from her bilhard table. What brutal indifference ! What 
animosity and indignity ! — not even to have bought her a 
black cloth a little more worthy of her! 

The poor body was left there long in that state until it be- 
gan to corrupt so that they were forced to salt and embalm 
it, — but slightly, to save cost ; after which they put it in a 
leaden coffin, where it was kept for seven months and then 
carried to profane ground around the temple of Petersbrouch 
[Peterborough Cathedral]. True it is that this church is dedi- 
cated to the name of Saint Peter, and that Queen Catherine 
of Spain is buried there as a Catholic; but the place is now 
profane, as are all the churches in England in these days. 

There are some who have said and written, even the Eng- 
lish who have made a book on this death and its causes, that 
the spoUs of the late queen were taken from the executioner 
by paying him the value in money of her clothes and her 
royal ornaments. The cloth with which the scaffold was 
covered, even the boards of it were partly burned and partly 
washed, for fear that in times to come they might serve 
superstition ; that is to say, for fear that any careful Catholic 
might some day buy and preserve them with respect, honour, 
and reverence (a fear which may possibly serve as a prophecy 
and augury), as the ancient Fathers had a practice of keep- 


ing relics and of taking care with devotion of the monuments 
of martyrs. In these days heretics do nothing of the kind. 
Quia omnia guce martyrum erant, cremalant, as Eusebius 
says, et cineres in Bhodanum spargehant, ut cum corpoi'ibus 
interiret eorum guogue memoria. Nevertheless, the memory 
of this queen, in spite of aU things, will live forever in glory 
and in triumph. 

Here, then, is the tale of her death, which I hold from the 
report of two damoiselles there present, very honourable 
certainly, very faithful to their mistress, and obedient to her 
commands in thus bearing testimony to her firmness and to 
her rehgion. They returned to France after losing her, for 
they were French ; one was a daughter of Mme. de Eard, 
whom I knew in France as one of the ladies of the late 
queen. I think that these two honourable damoiselles 
would have caused the most barbarous of men to weep at 
hearing so piteous a tale; which they made the more 
lamentable by tears, and by their tender, doleful, and noble 

I also learned much from a book which has been pub- 
lished, entitled " The Martyrdom of the Queen of Scotland, 
Dowager of France." Alas ! that being our queen did her 
no service. It seems to me that being such they ought 
to have feared our vengeance for putting her to death; 
and they would have thought a hundred times before they 
came to it, if our king had chosen to take the initiative. 
But, because he hated the Messieurs de Guise, his cousins, 
he took no pains except as formal duty. Alas ! what could 
that poor innocent do ? This is what many asked. 

Others say that he made many formal appeals. It is true 
that he sent to the Queen of England M. de Bellievre, one 
of the greatest and wisest senators of France and the ablest, 
who did not fail to offer aU his arguments, with the king's 


prayers and threats, and do all else that he could; and 
among other things he declared that it did not belong to 
one king or sovereign to put to death another king or 
sovereign, over whom he had no power either from God or 

I have never known a generous person who did not say 
that the Queen of England would have won immortal glory 
had she used mercy to the Scottish queen ; and also she 
would be exempt from the risk of vengeance, however tardy, 
which awaits her for the shedding of ianocent blood that 
cries aloud for it. It is said that the English queen was 
well advised of this; but not only did she pass over the 
advice of many of her kingdom, but also that of many 
great Protestant princes and lords both in France and 
Germany, — such as the Prince de Condd and Casimir, since 
dead, and the Prince of Orange and others, who had sub- 
scribed to this violent death while not expecting it, but 
afterwards felt their conscience burdened, inasmuch as it 
did not concern them and brought them no advantage, and 
they did it only to please the queen ; but, in truth, it did 
them inestimable detriment. 

They say, too, that Queen Elizabeth, when she sent to 
notify that poor Queen Marie of this melancholy sentence, 
assured her that it was done with great and sad regret on 
her part, under constraint of Parliament which urged it on 
her. To which Queen Marie answered : " She has much 
more power than that to make them obedient to her will 
when it pleases her ; for she is the princess, or more truly 
the prince, who has made herself the most feared and 

Now, I rely on the truth of all things, which time will 
reveal. Queen Marie will live glorious in this world and in 
the other ; and the time will come in a few years when some 


good pope will canonize her in memory of the martyrdom 
she suffered for the honour of God and of his Law. 

It is not to be doubted that if that great, valiant, and 
generous prince, the late M. de Guise, the last [Henri, le 
Balafr^ assassinated at Blois], was not dead, vengeance for 
so noble a queen and cousin thus murdered would not still 
be unborn. I have said enough on so pitiful a subject, which 
I end thus : — 

This queen, of a beauty so incomparable, 
Was, with too great injustice, put to death : 
To sustain that heart of faith inviolable 
Can it be there are none to avenge the wrong ? 

One there is who has written her epitaph in Latin verses, 
the substance of which is as follows : " Nature had produced 
this queen to be seen of all the world : with great admira- 
tion was she seen for her beauty and virtues so long as she 
lived : but England, envious, placed her on a scaffold to be 
seen in derision : yet was well deceived ; for the sight turned 
praise and admiration to her, and glory and thanksgiving to 

I must, before I finish, say a word here in reply to those 
whom I have heard speak ill of her for the death of Chastel- 
lard, whom the queen condemned to death in Scotland, — lay- 
ing upon her that she had justly suffered for making others 
suffer. Upon that count there is no justice, and it should 
never have been made. Those who know the history will 
never blame our queen ; and, for that reason, I shall here 
relate it for her justification. 

Chastellard was a gentleman of Dauphin^, of good family 
and condition, for he was great-nephew on his mother's side 
of that brave M. de Bayard, whom they say he resembled in 
figure, which in him was medium, very beautiful and slender, 


as tliey say M. de Bayard had also. He was very adroit at 
arms, and inclined in all ways to honourable exercises, such 
as firing at a mark, playing at tennis, leaping, and dancing. 
In short, he was a most accomplished gentleman ; and 
as for his soul, it was also very noble ; he spoke well, and 
wrote of the best, even in rhyme, as weU as any gentle- 
man in France, using a most sweet and lovely poesy, like a 

He followed M. d'AmviUe, so-called then, now M. le 
Conn^table; but when we were with M. le Grand Prieur, 
of the house of Lorraine, who conducted the queen [to 
Scotland] the said Chastellard was with us, and, in this 
company became known to the queen for his charming 
actions, above all for his rhymes ; among which he made 
some to please her in translation from Italian (which he 
spoke and knew well), beginning, Che giova posseder citth e 
regni ; which is a very well made sonnet, the substance of 
which is as follows : " What serves her to possess so many 
kingdoms, cities, towns, and provinces, to command so many 
peoples, and be respected, feared, admired of all, if still to 
sleep a widow, lone and cold as ice ? " 

He made also other rhymes, most beautiful, which I have 
seen written by his hand, for they never were imprinted, 
that I know. 

The queen, therefore, who loved letters, and principally 
poems, for sometimes she made dainty ones herself, was 
pleased in seeing those of Chastellard, and even made re- 
sponse, and, for that reason, gave him good cheer and enter- 
tained him often. But he, in secrecy, was kindled by a 
flame too high, the which its object could not hinder, for 
who can shield herself from love ? In times gone by the 
most chaste goddesses and dames were loved, and still are 
loved ; indeed we love their marble statues ; but for that 


no lady has been blamed unless she yielded to it. There- 
fore, kindle who wiU these sacred fires ! 

Chastellard returned with all our troop to France, much 
grieved and desperate in leaving so beautiful an object of his 
love. After one year the civil war broke out in France. He, 
who belonged to the Eeligion [Protestant], struggled within 
himself which side to take, whether to go to Orleans with 
the others, or stay with M. d'Amville, and make war against 
his faith. On the one hand, it seemed to him too bitter to 
go against his conscience ; on the other, to take up arms 
against his master displeased him hugely ; wherefore he re- 
solved to fight for neither the one nor yet the other, but to 
banish himself and go to Scotland, let fight who would, 
and pass the time away. He opened this project to M. 
d'Amville and told him his resolution, begging him to write 
letters in his favour to the queen ; which he obtained : then, 
taking leave of one and all, he went ; I saw him go ; he 
bade me adieu and told me in part his resolution, we being 

He made his voyage, which ended happily, so that, having 
arrived in Scotland and discoursing of his intentions to the 
queen, she received him kindly and assured him he was wel- 
come. But he, abusing such good cheer and seeking to 
attack the sun, perished like Phaeton; for, driven by love 
and passion, he was presumptuous enough to hide beneath 
the bed of her Majesty, where he was discovered when she 
retired. The queen, not wishing to make a scandal, par- 
doned him ; availing herself of that good counsel which the 
lady of honour gives to her mistress in the " Novels of the 
Queen of Navarre," when a seigneur of her brother's Court, 
slipping through a trap-door made by him in the alcove, 
seeking to win her, brought nothing back but shame and 
scratches : she wishing to punish his temerity and complain 


of liim to lier brother, the lady of honour counselled her 
that, since the seigneur had won nought but shame and 
scratches, it was for her honour as a lady of such mark not 
to be talked of ; for the more it was contended over, the 
more it would go to the nose of the world and the mouth of 

Our Queen of Scotland, being wise and prudent, passed 
this scandal by ; but the said Chastellard, not content and 
more than ever mad with love, returned for the second 
time, forgetting both his former crime and pardon. Then 
the queen, for her honour, and not to give occasion to her 
women to think evil, and also to her people if it were known, 
lost patience and gave him up to justice, which condemned 
him quickly to be beheaded, in view of the crime of such an 
act. The day having come, before he died he had in his 
hand the hymns of M. de Eonsard; and, for his eternal 
consolation, he read from end to end the Hymn of Death 
(which is well done, and proper not to make death abhorrent), 
taking no help of other spiritual book, nor of minister or 

Having ended that reading wholly, he turned to the spot 
where he thought the queen must be, and cried in a loud 
voice : "Adieu, most beautiful, most cruel princess in all the 
world ! " then, firmly stretching his neck to the executioner, 
he let himself be killed very easily. 

Some have wished to discuss why it was that he called 
her cruel ; whether because she had no pity on his love, or on 
his life. But what should she have done ? If, after her first 
pardon she had granted him a second, she would on all sides 
have been slandered ; to save her honour it was needful that 
the law should take its course. That is the end of this 


" Well, they may say what they will, many a true heart 
will be sad for Mary Stuart, e'en if all be true men say 
of her." That speech, which Walter Scott puts into the 
mouth of one of the personages in his novel of " The Abbot " 
at the moment when he is preparing the reader for an intro- 
duction to the beautiful queen, remains the last word of 
posterity as it was of contemporaries, — the conclusion of 
history as of poesy. 

Elizabeth living triumphed, and her policy after her lives 
and triumphs still, so that Protestantism and the British 
empire are one and the same thing. Marie Stuart suc- 
cumbed, in her person and in that of her descendants ; 
Charles I. under the axe, James II. in exile, each continued 
and added to his heritage of faults, imprudences, and 
calamities ; the whole race of the Stuarts was cut off, and 
seems to have deserved it. But, vanquished in the order 
of things and under the empire of fact, and even under that 
of inexorable reason, the beautiful queen has regained all 
in the world of imagination and of pity. She has found, 
from century to century, knights, lovers, and avengers. A 
few years ago, a Eussian of distinction, Prince Alexander 
Labanoff, began, with incomparable zeal, a search through 
the archives, the collections, the libraries of Europe, for 
documents emanating directly from Marie Stuart, the most 
insignificant as well as the most important of her letters, in 
order to connect them and so make a nucleus of history, 
and also an authentic shrine, not doubting that interest, 
serious and tender interest, would rise, more powerful still, 
from the bosom of truth itself. On the appearance of this 
collection of Prince Labanoff, M. Mignet produced, from 
1847 to 1850, a series of articles in the " Journal des Savants," 
in which, not content with appreciating the prince's docu- 
ments, he presented from himself new documents, hitherto 


Tinpublislied and affording new lights. Since then, leaving 
the form of criticism and dissertation, M. Mignard has taken 
this fine subject as a whole, and has written a complete 
narrative upon it, grave, compact, interesting, and definitive, 
which he is now publishing [1851]. 

In the meantime, about a yqar ago, there appeared a 
" History of Marie Stuart " by M. Dargaud, a writer of talent, 
whose book has been much praised and much read. M. 
Dargaud made, in his own way, various researches about the 
heroine of his choice; he went expressly to England and 
Scotland, and visited as a pilgrim all the places and scenes 
of Marie Stuart's sojourns and captivities. While drawing 
abundantly from preceding writers, M. Dargaud does them 
justice with effusion and cordiality ; he sheds through every 
line of his history the sentiment of exalted pity and poesy 
inspired within him by the memory of that royal and 
Catholic victim ; he deserves the fine letter which Mme. Sand 
wrote him from Nohant, April 10, 1851, in which she congratu- 
lates him, almost without criticism, and speaks of Marie Stuart 
with charm and eloquence. If I do not dwell at greater 
length upon the work of M. Dargaud, it is, I must avow, 
because I am not of that too emotional school which softens 
and enervates history. I think that history should not neces- 
sarily be dull and wearisome, but still less do I think it 
should be impassioned, sentimental, and as if magnetic. 
Without wishing to depreciate the quahties of M. Dargaud, 
which are too much in the taste of the day not to be their 
own recommendation, I shall follow in preference a more 
severe historian, whose judgment and whose method of 
procedure inspire me with confidence. 

Marie Stuart, born December 8, 1542, six days before the 
death of her father, who was then combating, like all the 
kings his predecessors, a turbulent nobihty, began as an 


orphan her fickle and unfortunate destiny. Storms assailed 

her in her cradle, — 

" As if, e'en then, inhuman Fortune 
Would suckle me with sadness and with pain," 

as an old poet, in I know not what tragedy, has made her 
say. Crowned at the age of nine months, disputed already 
in marriage between the French and English parties, each 
desiring to prevail in Scotland, she was early, through the 
influence of her mother, Marie de Guise (sister of the illus- 
trious Guises), bestowed upon the Dauphin of France, the son 
of King Henri II. August 13, 1548, Marie Stuart, then rather 
less than six years old, landed at Brest. Betrothed to the 
young dauphin, who, on his father's death became Francois II., 
she was brought up among the children of Henri II. and 
Catherine de' Medici, and remained in France, first as dau- 
phine, then as queen, until the premature death of her 
husband. She lived there in every respect as a French 
princess. These twelve or thirteen years in France were 
her joy and her charm, and the source of her ruin. 

She grew up in the bosom of the most polished, most 
learned, most gallant Court of those times, shining there in 
her early bloom hke a rare and most admired marvel, know- 
ing music and all the arts {divince Palladis artes), learning 
the languages of antiquity, speaking themes in Latin, supe- 
rior in French rhetoric, enjoying an intercourse with poets, 
and being herself their rival with her poems. Scotland, 
during all this time, seemed to her a barbaric and savage 
land, which she earnestly hoped never to see again, or, at 
any rate, never to inhabit. Trained to a policy wholly of 
the Court and wholly personal, they made her sign at Fon- 
tainebleau at the time of her marriage (1558) a secret deed 
of gift of the kingdom of Scotland to the kings of France, 
at the same time that she publicly gave adherence to the 


conditions which the commissioners from Scotland had 
attached to the marriage, conditions under which she pledged 
herself to maintain the integrity, the laws, and the liberties 
of her native land. It was at this very moment that she 
secretly made gift to the kings of France of her whole king- 
dom by an act of her own good-will and power. The Court 
of France prompted her to that imprudent treachery at the 
age of sixteen. Another very impoHtic imprudence, which 
proclaimed itself more openly, was committed when Henri II., 
on the death of Mary Tudor, made Marie Stuart, the dauphine, 
bear the arms of England beside those of Scotland, thus 
presenting her thenceforth as a declared rival and com- 
petitor of Ehzabeth. 

When Marie Stuart suddenly lost her husband (December 
5, 1560), and it was decided that she, a widow at eighteen, 
should, instead of remaining in her dowry of Touraine, re- 
turn to her kingdom of Scotland to bring order to the civil 
troubles there existing, universal mourning took place in 
the world of young French seigneurs, noble ladies, and poets. 
The latter consigned their regrets to many poems which pict- 
ure Marie Stuart to the life in this decisive hour, the first 
really sorrowful hour she had ever known. We see her 
refined, gracious, of a dehcate, fair complexion, the form and 
bust of queen or goddess, — L'Hopital himself had said of 
her, after his fashion, in a grave epithalamium : — 

" Adspectu veneranda, putes ut Numen inesse : 
Tantus in ore decor, majestas regia tanta est ! " — 

of a long hand, elegant and slender {gracilis), an alabaster 
forehead dazzling beneath the crape, and with golden hair — 
which needs a brief remark. It is a poet (Konsard) who 
speaks of " the gold of her ringed and braided hair," and 
poets, as we know, employ their words a little vaguely. 
Mme. Sand, speaking of a portrait she had seen as a child 


in the English Convent, says, without hesitation, "Marie 
was beautiful, but red-haired." M. Dargaud speaks of an- 
other portrait, " in which a sunray lightens," he says rather 
oddly, " the curls of her living and electric hair." But 
Walter Scott, reputed the most correct of historical romance- 
writers, in describing Marie Stuart a prisoner in Lochleven 
Castle, shows us, as though he had seen them, her thick 
tresses of " dark brown," which escaped now and then from 
her coif. Here we are far from the red or golden tints, and 
I see no other way of conciliating these differences than to rest 
on " that hair so beautiful, so blond and fair " [si blonds et cen- 
dres^ which Brantome, an ocular witness, admired, — hair 
that captivity whitened, leaving the poor queen of forty-six 
"quite bald" in the hands of her executioner, as I'Estoile 
relates. But at nineteen, the moment of her departure from 
France, the young widow was in all the glory of her beauty, 
except for a brilliancy of colour, which she lost at the death 
of her first husband, giving place to a purer whiteness. 

Withal a lively, graceful, and sportive mind, and French 
raillery, an ardent soul, capable of passion, open to desire, 
a heart which knew not how to draw back when flame or 
fancy or enchantment stirred it. Such was the queen, ad- 
venturous and poetical, who tore herself from France in 
tears, sent by politic uncles to recover her authority amid 
the roughest and most savage of "Frondes." 

Scotland, since Marie Stuart left it as a child, had under- 
gone great changes ; the principal was the Eeformed religion 
which had taken root there and extended itself vigorously. 
The great reformer Knox preached the new doctrine, which 
found in Scotland stern, energetic souls ready made to receive 
it. The old struggle of the lords and barons against the 
kings was complicated and redoubled now by that of cities 
and people against the brilliant beliefs of the Court and the 


Catholic hierarchy. The birth of modern society, of civil 
equality, of respect for the rights of all was painfully work- 
ing itself out through barbaric scenes, and by means of 
fanaticism itself. Alone and without counsel, contending 
with the lords and the nobility as her ancestors had done, 
Marie Stuart, quick, impulsive, subject to predilections and 
to antipathies, was already insufficient for the work ; what 
therefore could it be when she found herself face to face 
with a religious party, born and growing during recent years, 
face to face with an argumentative, gloomy party, moral and 
daring, discussing rationally, Bible in hand, the right of 
kings, and pushing logic even into prayer ? Coming from 
a literary and artificial Court, there was nothing in her that 
could comprehend these grand and voiceless movements of 
the people, either to retard them or turn them to her own 
profit by adapting herself to them. "She returned," says 
M. Mignet, " full of regrets and disgust, to the barren moun- 
tains and the uncultured inhabitants of Scotland. More 
lovable than able, very ardent and in no way cautious, she 
returned with a grace that was out of keeping with her sur- 
roundings, a dangerous beauty, a keen but variable intellect, 
a generous but rash soul, a taste for the arts, a love of ad- 
venture, and all the passions of a woman joined to the exces- 
sive liberty of a widow." 

And to complicate the peril of this precarious situation 
she had for neighbour in England a rival queen, Elizabeth, 
whom she had first offended by claiming her title, and next, 
and no less, by a feminine and proclaimed superiority of 
beauty and grace, — a rival queen capable, energetic, rigid, 
and dissimulating, representmg the contrary religious opmion, 
and surrounded by able counsellors, firm, consistent, and 
committed to the same cause. The seven years that Marie 
Stuart spent m Scotland after her return from France 


(August 19, 1561) to her imprisonment (May 18, 1568) are 
filled with aU the blunders and aU the faults that could be 
committed by a young and thoughtless princess, impulsive, 
unreflecting, and without shrewdness or abihty except in the 
line of her passion, never in view of a general pohtical pur- 
pose. The policy of Mme. de Longueville, during the 
Fronde, seems to me of the same character. 

As to other faults, the moral faults of poor Marie Stuart, 
they are as well known and demonstrated to-day as faults 
of that kind can well be. Mme. Sand, always very indul- 
gent, regards as the three black spots upon her life the 
abandonment of Chastellard, her feigned caresses to the 
hapless Darnley, and her forgetfulness of Bothwell. 

Chastellard, as we know, was a gentleman of Dauphin^, 
musician and poet, in the train of the servitors and adorers 
of the queen, who at first was very agreeable to her. Chastel- 
lard was one of the troop who escorted Marie Stuart to 
Scotland, and sometime later, urged by his passion, he 
returned there. But not knowing how to restrain himself, 
or to keep, as became him, to poetic passion while waiting 
to inspire, if he could, a real one, he was twice discovered 
beneath the bed of the queen; the second time she lost 
patience and turned him over to the law. Poor Chastellard 
was beheaded ; he died reciting, so they say, a hymn of 
Eonsard's, and crying aloud : " cruel Lady ! " After so 
stern an act, to which she was driven in fear of scandal and 
to put her honour above all attainder and suspicion, Marie 
Stuart had, it would seem, but one course to pursue, namely : 
to remain the most severe and most virtuous of princesses. 

But her severity for Chastellard, though shown for effect, 
is merely a peccadillo in comparison with her conduct to 
Darnley, her second husband. By marrying this young 
man (July 29, 1565), her vassal, but of the race of the 


Stuarts and her own family, Marie escaped the diverse 
political combinations which were striving to attract her 
to a second marriage; and it would have been, perhaps, 
a sensible thing to do, if she had not done it as an act of 
caprice and passion. But she fell in love with Darnley in 
a single day, and became disgusted in the next. This tall, 
weakly youth, timid and conceited by turns, with a heart 
" soft as wax," had nothing in him which subjugates a woman 
and makes her respect him. A woman such as Marie 
Stuart, changeable, ardent, easily swayed, with the sentiment 
of her weakness and of her impulsiveness, likes to find 
a master and at moments a tyrant in the man she loves, 
whereas she soon despises her slave and creature when he is 
nought but that ; she much prefers an arm of iron to an 
effeminate hand. 

Less than six months after her marriage Marie, wholly dis- 
gusted, consoled herself with an Italian, David Eiccio, a man 
thirty-two years of age, equally well fitted for business or 
pleasure, who advised her and served her as secretary, and 
was gifted with a musical talent well suited to commend him 
to women in other ways. The feeble Darnley confided his 
jealousy to the discontented lords and gentlemen, and 
they, in the interests of their faction, prodded his vengeance 
and offered to serve it with their sword. Ministers and 
Presbyterian pastors took part in the affair. The whole was 
plotted and managed with perfect unanimity as a chastise- 
ment of Heaven, and, what is more, by help of deeds and 
formal agreements which simulated legahty. The queen and 
her favourite, apparently before they had any suspicions, 
were taken in a net. David Eiccio was seized by the con- 
spirators while supping in Marie's cabinet (March 9, 1566), 
Darnley being present, and from there he was dragged into 
the next room and stabbed. Marie, at this date, was six 


months pregnant by her husband. On that day, outraged in 
honour and embittered in feeling, she conceived for Darnley 
a deeper contempt mingled with horror, and swore to avenge 
herself on the murderers. For this purpose she bided her 
time, she dissimulated ; for the first time in her life she con- 
trolled herself and restrained her actions. She became 
politic — as the nature is of passionate women — only in 
the interests of her passion and her vengeance. 

Here is the gravest and the most irreparable incident of 
her life. Even after we have fully represented to ourselves 
what the average morality of the sixteenth century, with all 
the treachery and atrocities it tolerated, was, we are scarcely 
prepared for this. Marie Stuart's first desire was to revenge 
herself on the lords and gentlemen who had lent their dag- 
gers to Darnley, rather than on her weak and timid husband. 
To reach her end she reconciled herself with the latter and 
detached him from the conspirators, his accomplices. She 
forced him to disavow them, thus degrading and sinking him 
in his own estimation. At this point she remained as long 
as a new passion was not added to her supreme contempt. 
Meantime her child was born (June 19), and she made 
Darnley the father of a son who resembled both parents on 
their worst sides, the future James I. of England, that soul 
of a casuist in a king. But by this time a new passion was 
budding in the open heart of Marie Stuart. He whom she 
now chose had neither Darnley's feebleness nor the salon 
graces of a Eiccio ; he was the Earl of Bothwell, a man of 
thirty, ugly, but martial in aspect, brave, bold, violent, and 
capable of daring all things. To him it was that this flexible 
and tender will was henceforth to cling for its support. 
Marie Stuart has found her master ; and him she will obey 
in all things, without scruple, without remorse, as happens 
always in distracted passion. 



But how rid herself of a husband henceforth odious ? 
How unite herself to the man she loves and whose ambition 
is not of a kind to stop half way ? Here again we need — 
not to excuse, but to explain Marie Stuart — we need to 
represent to our minds the morality of that day. A goodly 
number of the same lords who had taken part in Eiccio's 
murder, and who were leagued together by deeds and docu- 
ments, offered themselves to the queen, and, for the purpose 
of recovering favour, let her see the means of getting rid of a 
husband who was now so irksome. She answered this over- 
ture by merely speaking of a divorce and the difficulty of 
obtaining it. But these men, little scrupulous, said to her 
plainly, by the mouth of Lethington, the ablest and most 
pohtic of them all : " Madame, give yourself no anxiety ; we, 
the leaders of the nobility, and the heads of your Grace's 
Council, will find a way to dehver you from him without 
prejudice to your son ; and though my Lord Murray, here 
present (the illegitimate brother of Marie Stuart), is little 
less scrupulous as a Protestant than your Grace is as a Papist, 
I feel sure that he will look through his fingers, see us act, 
and say nothing." 

The word was spoken ; Marie had only to do as her brother 
did, " look through her fingers," as the vulgar saying was, and 
let things go on without taking part in them. She did take 
a part however ; she led into the trap, by a feigned return of 
tenderness, the unfortunate Darnley, then convalescing from 
the small-pox. She removed his suspicions without much 
trouble, and, recovering her empire over him, persuaded him 
to come in a litter from Glasgow to Kirk-of-Field, at the 
gates of Edinburgh, where there was a species of parsonage, 
little suitable for the reception of a king and queen, but very 
convenient for the crime now to be committed. 

There Darnley perished, strangled with his page, during 


the night of February 9, 1567. The house was blown up by- 
means of a barrel of gunpowder, placed there to give the idea 
of an accident. During this time Marie had gone to a masked 
ball at Holyrood, not having quitted her husband until that 
evening, when all was prepared to its slightest detail. Both- 
well, who was present for a time at the ball, left Edinburgh 
after midnight and presided at the killing. These circum- 
stances are proved in an irrefragable manner by the testimony 
of witnesses, by the confessions of the actors, and by the let- 
ters of Marie Stuart, the authenticity of which M. Mignard, 
with decisive clearness, places beyond all doubt. She felt 
that in giving herself thus to Bothwell's projects she fur- 
nished him with weapons against herself and gave him 
grounds to distrust her in turn. He might say to himself, as 
the Duke of Norfolk said later, that " the pillow of such a 
woman was too hard " to sleep upon. During the preparation 
of this horrible trap she more than once showed her repug- 
nance to deceive the poor sick dupe who trusted her. "I 
shall never rejoice," she writes, " through deceiving him who 
trusts me. Nevertheless, command me in all things. But 
do not conceive an ill opinion of me ; because you yourself 
are the cause of this ; for I would never do anything against 
him for my own particular vengeance." And truly this role 
of Clytemnestra, or of Gertrude in Hamlet was not in accord- 
ance with her nature, and could only have been imposed upon 
her. But passion rendered her for this once insensible to 
pity, and made her heart (she herself avows it) " as hard as 
diamond." Marie Stuart soon put the cKmax to her ill- 
regulated passion and desires by marrying Bothwell; thus 
revolting the mind of her whole people, whose morality, 
fanatical as it was, was never in the least depraved, and was 
far more upright than that of the nobles. 

The crime was echoed beyond the seas. L'Hopital, that 


representative of the human conscience in a dreadful era, 
heard, in his country retreat, of the misguided conduct of her 
whose early grace and first marriage he had celebrated in his 
stately epithalamium ; and he now recorded his indignation 
in another Latin poem, wherein he recounts the horrors of 
that funereal night, and does not shrink from calling the wife 
and the young mother " the murderess, alas ! of a father 
whose child was still at her breast." 

On the 15th of May, three months — only three months 
after the murder, at the first smile of spring, the marriage 
with the murderer was celebrated. Marie Stuart justified 
in all ways Shakespeare's saying: "Frailty, thy name is 
Woman." For none was ever more a woman than Marie 

Here I am unable to admit the third reproach of Mme. 
Sand, that of Marie Stuart's forgetfulness of Bothwell. I 
see, on the contrary, through all the obstacles, all the perils 
immediately following this marriage, that Marie had no other 
idea than that of avoiding separation from her violent and 
domineering husband. She loved him so madly that she 
said to whosoever might hear her (April, 1567) that " she 
would quit France, England, and her own country, and follow 
him to the ends of the earth in nought but a white petticoat, 
rather than be parted from him." And soon after, forced by 
the lords to tear herself from Bothwell, she reproaches them 
bitterly, asking but one thing, " that both be put in a vessel 
and sent away where Fortune led them." It was only en- 
forced separation, final imprisonment, and the impossibility 
of communication, which compelled the rupture. It is true 
that Marie, a prisoner in England, solicited the Parhament 
of Scotland to annul her marriage with Bothwell, in the hope 
she then had of marrying the Duke of Norfolk, who played 
the lover to herself and crown, though she never saw him. 


But, Bothwell being a fugitive and ruined, can we reproach 
Marie Stuart for a project from which she hoped for restora- 
tion and deliverance ? Her passion for Bothwell had been a 
delirium, which drove her into connivance with crime. That 
fever calmed, Marie Stuart turned her mind to the resources 
which presented themselves, among which was the offer of 
her hand. Her wrong-doing does not lie there; amid so 
many infidelities and horrors, it would be pushing delicacy- 
much too far to require eternity of sentiment for the re- 
mains of an unbridled and bloody passion. That which is 
due to such passions, when they leave no hatred behind 
them, that which becomes them best, is oblivion. 

Such conduct, and such deeds, crowned by her heedless 
flight into England and the imprudent abandonment of her 
person to Elizabeth, seem little calculated to make the touch- 
ing and pathetic heroine we are accustomed to admire and 
cherish in Marie Stuart. Yet she deserves all pity ; and we 
have but to follow her through the third and last portion of 
her life, through that long, unjust, and sorrowful captivity 
of nineteen years (May 18, 1568, to February 5, 1587) to 
render it unconsciously. Struggling without defence against 
a crafty and ambitious rival, liable to mistakes from friends 
outside, the victim of a grasping and tenacious policy which 
never let go its prey and took so long a time to torture before 
devouring it, she never for a single instant fails towards her- 
self ; she rises ever higher. That faculty of hope which so 
often had misled her becomes the grace of her condition and 
a virtue. She moves the whole world in the interest of her 
misfortunes; she stirs it with a charm all-powerful. Her 
cause transforms and magnifies itself. It is no longer that 
of a passionate and heedless woman punished for her frailties 
and her inconstancy ; it is that of the legitimate heiress of 
the crown of England, exposed in her dungeon to the eyes of 


the world, a faithful, unshaken Catholic, who refuses to sac- 
rifice her faith to the interests of her ambition or even to the 
salvation of her Ufe. The beauty and grandeur of such a 
role were fitted to stir the tender and naturally believing 
heart of Marie Stuart. She fills her soul with that role ; she 
substitutes it, from the first moment of her captivity, for all 
her former personal sentiments, which, little by little, subside 
and expire within her as the fugitive occasions which aroused 
them pass away. She seems to remember them no more than 
she does the waves and the foam of those brilliant lakes that 
she has crossed. For nineteen years the whole of Cathohcity 
is disquieted and impassioned about her ; and she is there, 
half-heroine, half-martyr, making the signal and waving her 
banner beliind the bars. Captive that she was, do not accuse 
her of conspiring against Ehzabeth ; for with her ideas of right 
divine and of absolute kingship from sovereign to sovereign, 
it was not conspiring, she being a prisoner, to seek for the 
triumph of her cause ; it was simply pursuing the war. 

From the moment when Marie Stuart is a prisoner, when 
we see her crushed, deprived of all that comforts and con- 
soles, infirm, alas ! with whitened hair before her time, when 
we hear her, in the longest and most remarkable of her 
letters to Elizabeth (November 8, 1582), repeating for the 
twentieth time : " Your prison, without right, without just 
grounds, has already so destroyed my body that you will 
soon see an end if this lasts much longer; so that my 
enemies have no great time to satisfy their cruelty against 
me ; nought remains to me but my soul, the which it is not 
in your power to render captive," — when we dwell on this 
mixture of pride and plaint, pity carries us along ; our hearts 
speak ; the tender charm with which she was endowed, and 
which acted upon all who approached her, asserts its power 
and lays its spell upon us even at this distance. It is not 


by the text of a scribe, nor yet with the logic of a statesman 
that we judge her ; it is with the heart of a knight, or rather, 
let me say, with that of a man. Humanity, pity, religion, 
supreme poetic grace, all those invincible and immortal 
powers feel themselves concerned in her person and cry to 
us across the ages. " Bear these tidings," she said to her 
old Melvil at the moment of death : " that I die firm in 
my religion, a true CathoKc, a true Scotchwoman, a true 
Frenchwoman." These behefs, these patriotisms and national- 
ities thus evoked by Marie Stuart have made that long 
echo that rephes to her with tears and love. 

What reproach can we make to one who, after nineteen 
years of anguish and moral torture, searched, during the 
night that preceded her death, in the " Lives of the Saints " 
(which her ladies were accustomed to read to her nightly) 
for some great sinner whom God had pardoned. She 
stopped at the story of the penitent thief, which seemed to 
her the most reassuring example of human confidence and 
divine mercy ; and while Jean Kennedy, one of her ladies, 
read it to her, she said : " He was a great sinner, but not so 
great as I. I implore our Lord, in memory of His Passion, 
to remember and have mercy upon me, as He had upon him, 
in the hour of death." Those true and sincere feelings, that 
contrite humility in her last and sublime moments, this per- 
fect intelligence, and profound need of pardon, leave us with- 
out means of seeing any stain of the past upon her except 
through tears. 

It was thus that old Etienne Pasquier felt. Having to 
relate in his " Eecherches " the death of Marie Stuart, he 
compares it with the tragic history of the Conn^table de 
Saint-Pol, and that of the Conn^table de Bourbon, which 
left him under a mixture of conflicting sentiments. "But 
in that of which I now discourse," he says, " methinks I see 

^ LM^ ldes-^ 


only tears; and is there, by chance, a man who, reading 
this, will not forgive his eyes ? " 

M. Mignet, who examines all things as an historian, and 
gives but short pages to emotion, has admirably distinguished 
and explained the dififerent phases of Marie Stuart's cap- 
tivity, and the secret springs which were set to work at 
various periods. He has, especially, cast a new light, aided 
by Spanish documents in the Archives of Simancas, on the 
slow preparations of the enterprise undertaken by Philip 
II., that fruitless and tardy crusade, delayed until after the 
death of Marie Stuart, which ended in the disastrous ship- 
wreck of the invincible Armada. 

Issuing from this brilliant and stormy episode of the history 
of the sixteenth century, which has been so strongly and judi- 
ciously set before us by M. Mignet, full of these scenes of 
violence, treachery, and iniquity, and without having the inno- 
cence to beheve that humanity has done forever with such 
deeds, we congratulate ourselves in spite of everything, and 
rejoice that we live in an age of softened and amehorated 
public morals. We exclaim with M. de Tavannes, when he 
relates in his " Memoirs " the life and death of Marie Stuart : 
" Happy he who lives in a safe State ; where good and evil 
are rewarded and punished according to their deserts." 
Happy the times and the communities where a certain general 
morahty and human respect for opinion, where a penal 
Code, and especially the continual check of pubhcity, exist 
to interdict, even to the boldest, those criminal resolutions 
which every human heart, if left to itself, is ever tempted to 

Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du Lundi (1851). 

Elisabeth of France, queen of spain. 

I "WEITE here of the Queen of Spain, Elisabeth of Erance, 
a true daughter of Erance in everything, a beautiful, wise, 
virtuous, spiritual, and good queen if ever there was one ; 
and I believe since Saint Elisabeth no one has borne that 
name who surpassed her in all sorts of virtues and per- 
fections, although that beautiful name of Elisabeth has 
been fateful of goodness, virtue, sanctity, and perfection to 
those who have borne it, as many believe.^ 

When she was born at Eontainebleau, the king her grand- 
father, and her father and mother made very great joy of it ; 
you would have said she was a lucky star bringing good 
hap to Erance ; for her baptism brought peace to us, as did 
her marriage. See how good fortunes are gathered in one 
person to be distributed on diverse occasions ; for then it 
was that peace was made with King Henry [VIIL] of Eng- 
land ; and to confirm and strengthen it our king made him 
her sponsor and gave to his goddaughter the beautiful name 
of Elisabeth; at whose birth and baptism the rejoicings 
were as great as at those of the little Xing Erangois the 

Child as she was, she promised to be some great thing at 
a future day; and when she came to be grown up she 
promised it more surely still ; for all virtue and goodness 

1 She was the daughter of Henri II. and Catherine de' Medici, married 
to Philip n., King of Spain, after the death of Queen Mary of England. — 


abounded in her, so that the whole Court admired her, and 
prognosticated a fine grandeur and great royalty to her in 
time. So they say that when King Henri married his 
second daughter, Madame Claude, to the Due de Lorraine, 
there were some who remonstrated against the wrong done 
to the elder in marrying the younger before her; but the 
king made this response : " My daughter Elisabeth is such 
that a duchy is not for her to marry. She must have a 
kingdom : and even so, not one of the lesser but one of the 
greater kingdoms ; so great is she herself in all things ; 
which assures me that she can miss none, wherefore she can 

You would have said he prophesied the future. He did 
not fail on his side to seek and procure one for her ; for when 
peace was made between the two kings at Cercan she was 
promised in marriage to Don Carlos, Prince of Spain, a brave 
and gallant prince and the image of his grandfather, the 
Emperor Charles, had he lived. But the King of Spain, his 
father, becoming a widower by the death of the Queen of 
England, his wife and cousin-german, and having seen the 
portrait of Madame Elisabeth and finding her very beautiful 
and much to his liking, cut the ground from under the feet 
of his son and did himself the charity of wedding her him- 
self. On which the Erench and Spaniards said with one 
voice that one would think she was conceived and born be- 
fore the world and reserved by God until his will had joined 
her with this great king, her husband ; for it must have 
been predestined that he, being so great, so powerful, 
and thus approaching in all grandeur to the skies, should 
marry no other princess than one so perfect and accom- 
plished. When the Duke of Alba came to see her and 
espouse her for the king, his master, he found her so ex- 
tremely agreeable and suited to the said master that he said 

Elisabeth of france. 139 

she was a princess who would make the King of Spain very 
easily forget his grief for his last two wives, the English and 
the Portuguese. 

After this, as I have heard from a good quarter, the said 
prince, Don Carlos, having seen her, became so distractedly 
in love with her, and so full of jealousy, that he bore a great 
grudge against his father, and was so angry with him for 
having deprived him of so fine a prize that he never loved 
him more, but reproached him with the great wrong and 
insult he had done him in taking her who had been promised 
to him solemnly in the treaty of peace. They do say that 
this was, in part, the cause of his death, with other topics 
which I shall not speak of at this hour ; for he could not 
keep himself from loving her in his soul, honouring and 
revering her, so charming and agreeable did she seem in his 
eyes, as certainly she was in everything. 

Her face was handsome, her hair and eyes so shaded her 
complexion and made it the more attractive that I have heard 
say in Spain that the courtiers dared not look upon her for 
fear of being taken in love and causing jealousy to the king, 
her husband, and, consequently, running risk of their lives. 

The Church people did the same from fear of temptation, 
they not having strength to command their flesh to look at 
her without being tempted. Although she had had the 
small-pox, after being grown-up and married, they had so 
well preserved her face with poultices of fresh eggs (a very 
proper thing for that purpose) that no marks appeared. I 
saw the queen, her mother, very much concerned to send 
her by many couriers many remedies ; but this of the egg- 
poultice was sovereign. 

Her figure was very fine, taller than that of her sisters, 
which made her much admired in Spain, where such taU 
women are rare, and for that the more esteemed. And with 


this figure she had a bearing, a majesty, a gesture, a gait and 
grace that intermingled the Frenchwoman with the Spaniard 
in sweetness and gravity ; so that, as I myself saw, when she 
passed through her Court, or went out to certain places, 
whether churches, or monasteries, or gardens, there was such 
great press to see her, and the crowd of persons was so thick, 
there was no turning round in the mob ; and happy was he 
or she who could say in the evening, " I saw the queen." 
It was said, and I saw it myself, that no queen was ever 
loved in Spain like her (begging pardon of the Queen Isabella 
of Castile), and her subjects called her la reyna de la paz y 
de la bondad, that is to say, " the queen of peace and kind- 
ness ; " but our Frenchmen called her " the olive-branch of 

A year before she came to France to visit her mother at 
Bayonne, she fell ill to such extremity that the physicians 
gave her up. On which a little Itahan doctor, who had no 
great vogue at Court, presenting himself to the king, declared 
that if he were allowed to act he would cure her ; which the 
king permitted, she being almost dead. The doctor under- 
took her and gave her a medicine, after which they suddenly 
saw the colour return miraculously to her face, her speech 
came back, and then, soon after, her convalescence began. 
Nevertheless the whole Court and all the people of Spain 
blocked the roads with processions and comings and goings to 
churches and hospitals for her health's sake, some in shirts, 
others bare-footed and bare-headed, offering oblations, prayers, 
orisons, intercessions to God, with fasts, macerations of the 
body, and other good and saintly devotions for her health ; 
so that every one believes firmly that these good prayers, 
tears, vows, and cries to God were the cause of her cure, 
rather than the medicine of that doctor. 

I arrived in Spain a month after this recovery of her 


health; but I saw so much devotion among the people in 
giving thanks to God, by fetes, rejoicings, magnificences, fire- 
works, that there was no doubting in any way how much 
they felt. I saw nothing else in Spain as I travelled through 
it, and reaching the Court just two days after she left her 
room, I saw her come out and get into her coach, sitting at 
the door of it, which was her usual place, because such beauty 
should not be hidden within, but displayed openly. 

She was dressed in a gown of white satin all covered with 
silver trimmings, her face uncovered. I think that nothing 
was ever seen more beautiful than this queen, as I had the 
boldness to tell her ; for she had given me a right good wel- 
come and cheer, coming as I did from France and the Court, 
and bringing her news of the king, her good brother, and the 
queen, her good mother ; for all her joy and pleasure was to 
know of them. It was not I alone who thought her beautiful, 
but all the Court and all the people of Madrid thought so 
likewise ; so that it might be said that even illness favoured 
her, for after doing her such cruel harm it embellished her 
skin, making it so delicate and polished that she was cer- 
tainly more beautiful than ever before. 

Leaving thus her chamber for the first time, to do the 
best and saintliest thing she could she went to the churches 
to give thanks to God for the favour of her health ; and this 
good work she continued for the space of fifteen days, not 
to speak of the vow she made to Our Lady of Guadalupe ; 
letting the whole people see her face uncovered (as was her 
usual fashion) till you might have thought they worshipped 
her, so to speak, rather than honoured or revered her. 

So when she died [1568], as I have heard the late M. de 
LigneroUes, who saw her die, relate, he having gone to carry 
to the King of Spain the news of the victory of Jarnac, never 
were a people so afflicted, so disconsolate ; none ever shed 


SO many tears, being unable to recover themselves in any 
way, but mourning her with despair incessantly. 

She made a noble end \_a;t. 23], leaving this world with 
firm courage, and desiruig much the other. 

Sinister things have been said of her death, as having 
been hastened. I have heard one of her ladies tell that 
the first time she saw her husband she looked at him so 
fixedly that the king, not liking it, said to her : Que mirais ? 
Si tengo canas ? which means : " What are you gazing at ? 
Is my hair white ? " These words touched her so much to 
the heart that ever after her ladies augured ill for her. 

It is said that a Jesuit, a man of importance, speaking of 
her one day in a sermon, and praising her rare virtues, 
charities, and kindness, let fall the words that she had 
wickedly been made to die, innocent as she was ; for which 
he was banished to the farthest depths of the Indies of 
Spain. This is very true, as I have been told. 

There are other conjectures so great that silence must be 
kept about them ; but very true it is that this princess was 
the best of her time and loved by every one. 

So long as she lived in Spain never did she forget the 
affection she bore to France, and in that was not like Ger- 
maine de Foix, second wife of King Ferdinand, who when 
she saw herself raised to such high rank became so haughty 
that she made no account of her own country, and disdained 
it so much that, when Louis XII., her uncle, and Ferdinand 
came to Savonne, she, being with her husband, held herself 
so high that never would she notice a Frenchman, not even 
her brother Gaston de Foix, Due de Nemours, neither would 
she deign to speak or look at the greatest persons of France 
who were present ; for which she was much ridiculed. But 
after the death of her husband she suffered for this, having 
fallen from her high estate and being held in no great ac- 

I:lisabeth oe France. 143 

count, whereat she was miserable. They say there are none 
so vainglorious as persons of low estate who rise to grandeur ; 
not that I mean to say that princess was of low estate, being 
of the house of Foix, a very illustrious and great house ; but 
from simple daughter of a count to be queen of so great a 
kingdom was a rise which gave occasion to feel much glory, 
but not to forget herself or abuse her station towards a King 
of France, her uncle, and her nearest relations and others 
of the land of her birth. In this she showed she lacked 
a great mind; or else that she was foolishly vainglorious. 
For surely there is a difference between the house of Foix 
and the house of France ; not that I mean to say the house 
of Foix is not great and very noble, but the house of France 
— hey! 

Our Queen Elisabeth never did like that. She was born 
great in herself, great in mind and very able, so that a 
royal grandeur could not fail her. She had, if she had 
wished it, double cause over Germaine de Foix to be 
haughty and arrogant, for she was daughter of a great King 
of France, and married to the greatest king in the world, he 
being not the monarch of one kingdom, but of many, or, as 
one might say, of all the Spains, — Jerusalem, the Two 
Sicilies, Majorca, Minorca, Sardinia, and the Western Indies, 
which seem indeed a world, besides being lord of infinitely 
more lands and greater seigneuries than Ferdinand ever had. 
Therefore we should laud our princess for her gentleness, 
which is well becoming in a great personage towards each 
and all ; and likewise for the affection she showed to 
Frenchmen, who, on arriving in Spain, were welcomed by 
her with so benign a face, the least among them as well as 
the greatest, that none ever left her without feeling honoured 
and content. I can speak for myself, as to the honour she 
did me in talking to me often during the time I stayed 


there ; asking me, at all hours, news of the king, the queen 
her mother, messieurs her brothers, and madame her sister, 
with others of the Court, not forgetting to name them, each 
and all, and to inquire about them ; so that I wondered 
much how she could remember these things as if she had 
just left the Court of France ; and I often asked her how 
it was possible she could keep such memories in the midst 
of her grandeur. 

Wlien she came to Bayonne she showed herself just as 
famihar with the ladies and maids of honour, neither more 
nor less, as she was when a girl; and as for those who 
were absent or married since her departure, she inquired 
with great interest about them all. She did the same to 
the gentlemen of her acquaintance, and to those who were 
not, informing herself as to who the latter were, and say- 
ing : " Such and such were at Court in my day, I knew them 
well ; but these were not, and I desire to know them." In 
short, she contented every one. 

When she made her entry into Bayonne she was mounted 
on an ambling horse, most superbly and richly caparisoned 
with pearl embroideries which had formerly been used by 
the deceased empress when she made her entries into her 
towns, and were thought to be worth one hundred thousand 
crowns, and some say more. She had a noble grace on horse- 
back, and it was fine to see her ; she showed herself so 
beautiful and so agreeable that every one was charmed with 

We all had commands to go to meet her, and accompany 
her on this entry, as indeed it was our duty to do ; and we 
were gratified when, having made her our reverence, she did 
us the honour to thank us ; and to me above all she gave 
good greeting, because it was scarcely four months since I 
had left her in Spain ; which touched me much, receiving 


such favour above my companions and more honour than 
belonged to me. 

On my return from Portugal and from Pignon de Belis 
[Penon de Velez], a fortress which was taken in Barbary, 
she welcomed me very warmly, asking me news of the con- 
quest and of the army. She presented me to Don Carlos, 
who came into her room, together with the princess, and to 
Don Juan [of Austria, Philip II.'s brother, the conqueror 
of Lepanto]. I was two days without going to see her, on 
account of a toothache I had got upon the sea. She asked 
Eiberac, maid of honour, where I was and if I were ill, and 
having heard what my trouble was she sent me her apothe- 
cary, who brought me an herb very special for that ache, 
which, on merely being held in the palm of the hand, cures 
the pain suddenly, as it did very quickly for me. 

I can boast that I was the first to bring the queen-mother 
word of Queen EHsabeth's desire to come to France and see 
her, for which she thanked me much both then and later ; 
for the Queen of Spain was her good daughter, whom she 
loved above the others, and who returned her the like ; for 
Queen Elisabeth so honoured, respected, and feared her that 
I have heard her say she never received a letter from 
the queen, her mother, without trembling and dreading lest 
she was angry with her and had written some painful 
thing ; though, God knows, she had never said one to her 
since she was married, nor been angry with her; but the 
daughter feared the mother so much that she always had 
that apprehension. 

It was on this journey to Bayonne that Pompadour the 
elder having killed Chambret at Bordeaux, wrongfully as 
some say, the queen-mother was so angry that if she could 
have caught him she would have had him beheaded, and no 
one dared speak to her of mercy. 



M. Strozzi, who was fond of the said Pompadour, he- 
thought him of employing his sister, Signora Clarice Strozzi, 
Comtesse de Tenda, whom the Queen of Spain loved from 
her earliest years, they having studied together. The said 
countess, who loved her brother, did not refuse him, but 
begged the Queen of Spain to intercede ; who answered that 
she would do anything for her except that, because she 
dreaded to irritate and annoy the queen, her mother, and 
displease her. But the countess continuing to importune 
her, she employed a third person who sounded the ford 
privately, telling the queen-mother that the queen, her 
daughter, would have asked tliis pardon to gratify the said 
countess had she not feared to displease her. To which the 
queen-mother replied that the thing must be wholly impos- 
sible to make her refuse it. On which the Queen of Spain 
made her little request, but still in fear ; and suddenly it was 
granted. Such was the kindness of this princess, and her 
virtue in honouring and fearing the queen, her mother, she 
being herself so great. Alas ! the Christian proverb did not 
hold good in her case, namely : " He that would Hve long 
years must love and honour and fear his father and mother ; " 
for, in spite of doing all that, she died in the lovely and 
pleasant April of her days ; for now, at the time I write, 
[1591] she would have been, had she lived, forty-six years 
old. Alas ! that this fair sun disappeared so soon in a dark- 
some grave, when she might have Hghted this fine world for 
twenty good years without even then being touched by age ; 
for she was by nature and complexion fitted to keep her 
beauty long, and even had old age attacked her, her beauty 
was of a kind to be the stronger. 

Surely, if her death was hard to Spaniards, it was still 
more bitter to us Frenchmen, for as long as she lived Trance 
was never invaded by those quarrels which, since then, 


Spain has put upon us ; so well did she know how to win 
and persuade the king, her husband, for our good and our 
peace ; the which should make us ever mourn her. 

She left two daughters, the most honourable and virtuous 
infantas in Christendom. When they were large enough, 
that is to say, three or four years old, she begged her hus- 
band to leave the eldest wholly to her that she might bring 
her up in the French fashion. Which the king willingly 
granted. So she took her in hand, and gave her a fine and 
noble training in the style of her own country, so that to-day 
that infanta is as French as her sister, the Duchesse de Savoie, 
is Spanish ; she loves and cherishes France as her mother 
taught her, and you may be sure that all the influence and 
power that she has with the king, her father, she employs 
for the help and succour of those poor Frenchmen whom she 
knows are sufferiag in Spanish hands. I have heard it 
said that after the rout of M. Strozzi, very many French 
soldiers and gentlemen having been put in the galleys, 
she went, when at Lisbon, to visit all the galleys that were 
then there; and all the Frenchmen whom she found on 
the chain, to the number of six twenties, she caused to be 
released, giving them money to reach their own land ; so 
that the captains of the galleys were obliged to hide those 
that remained. 

She was a very beautiful princess and very agreeable, of 
an extremely graceful mind, who knew all the affairs of the 
kingdom of the king, her father, and was well trained in 
them. I hope to speak of her hereafter by herself, for she 
deserves all honour for the love she bears to France ; she 
says she can never part with it, having good right to it ; and 
we, if we have obligation to this princess for loving us, how 
much more should we have to the queen, her mother, for 
having thus brought her up and taught her. 


Would to God I were a good enough petrarchizer to exalt 
as I desire this iSlisabeth of France ! for, if the beauty of 
her body gives me most ample matter, that of her fine soul 
gives me still more, as these verses, which were made upon 
her at Court at the time she was married, will testify: 

Happy the prince whom Heaven ordains 
To Elisabeth's sweet acquaintance : 
More precious far than crown or sceptre 
The glad enjoyment of so great a treasure. 
Gifts most divine she had at birth, 
The proof and the effect of which we see; 
Her youthful years showed their appearance, 
But now her virtues bear their perfect fruit. 

When this queen was put into the hands of the Due de 
rinfantado and the Cardinal de Burgos, who were com- 
missioned by their king to receive her at Eoncevaux in a 
great hall, after the said deputies had made their reverence, 
she rising from her chair to welcome them, Cardinal de 
Burgos harangued her; to whom she made response so 
honourably, and in such fine fashion and good grace that he 
was quite amazed ; for she spoke in the best manner, having 
been very well taught. 

After which the King of Navarre, who was there as her 
principal conductor, and also leader of all the army which 
was with her, was summoned to dehver her, according to 
the order, which was shown to the Cardinal de Bourbon, to 
receive her. The king replied, for he spoke well, and said : 
" I place in your hands this princess, whom I have brought 
from the house of the ejreatest kincr in the world to be 
placed in the hands of the most illustrious king on earth. 
Knowing you to be very sufficient and chosen by the king 
your master to receive her, I make no difficulty nor doubt 
that you will acquit yourselves worthily of this trust, which 


I now discharge upon you ; begging you to have peculiar 
care of her health and person, for she deserves it ; and I 
wish you to know that never did there enter Spain so great 
an ornament of all virtues and chastities, as in time you will 
know well by results." 

The Spaniards replied at once that already at first sight 
they had very ample knowledge of this from her manner 
and grave majesty ; and, in truth, her virtues were rare. 

She had great knowledge, because the queen her mother 
had made her study well under M. de Saint-Etienne, her 
preceptor, whom she always loved and respected until her 
death. She loved poesy, and to read it. She spoke well, 
in either French or Spanish, with a very noble air and much 
good grace. Her Spanish language was beautiful, as dainty 
and attractive as possible; she learned it in three or four 
months after coming to Spain. 

To Frenchmen she always spoke French; never being 
willing to discontinue it, but reading it daily in the fine 
books they sent from France, which she was very anxious 
to have brought to her. To Spaniards and all others she 
spoke Spanish and very weU. In short, she was perfect in 
all things, and so magnificent and hberal that no one could 
be more so. She never wore her gowns a second time, but 
gave them to her ladies and maids ; and God knows what 
gowns they were, so rich and so superb that the least was 
reckoned at three or four hundred crowns ; for the king, her 
husband, kept her most superbly in such matters ; so that 
every day she had a new one, as I was told by her tailor, 
who from being a very poor man became so rich that 
nothing exceeded him, as I saw myself. 

She dressed well, and very pompously, and her habili- 
ments became her much ; among other things her sleeves 
were slashed, with scollops which they call in Spanish pun- 


tas ; her head-dress the same, where nothing lacked. Those 
who see her thus in painting admire her ; I therefore leave 
you to think what pleasure they had who saw her face to 
face, with all her gestures and good graces. 

As for pearls and jewels in great quantity, she never 
lacked them, for the king, her husband, ordered a great estate 
for her and for her household. Alas ! vwhat served her 
that for such an end ? Her ladies and maids of honour felt 
it. Those who, being French, could not constraia them- 
selves to live in a foreign land, she caused, by a prayer 
which she made to the king, her husband, to receive each 
four thousand crowns on their marriage ; as was done to 
Mesdamoiselles Eiberac, sisters, otherwise called Guitigniferes, 
de Fumel, the two sisters de Thorigny, de Noyau, d'Arne, 
de La Motte au Groin, Montal, and several others. Those 
who were wilHng to remain were better off, hke Mesdamoi- 
selles de Saint-Ana and de Saint-Legier, who had the honour 
to be governesses to Mesdames the infantas, and were mar- 
ried very richly to two great seigneurs ; they were the 
wisest, for better is it to be great in a foreign country than 
little in your own, — as Jesus said : " No one is a prophet in 
his own land." 

This is all, at this time, that I shall say of this good, wise 
and very virtuous queen, though later I may speak of her. 
But I give this sonnet which was written to her praise by 
an honourable gentleman, she being still Madame, though 
promised in marriage : — 

" Princess, to whom the skies give such advantage 
That, for the part you have in Heaven's divinity, 
They grant you all the virtues of this earth, 
And crown you with the gift of immortality : 

" And since it pleased them that in early years 
Your heavenly gifts of deity be seen, 


So that you temper -with a humble gravity 
The royal grandeur of your sacred heritage : 

" And also since it pleases them to favour you, 
And place in you the best of all their best, 
So that your name is cherished everywhere : 

" Methinks that name should undergo a change, 
And though we call you now Elisabeth of France, 
You should be named Elisabeth of Heaven." 

I know that I may be reproved for putting into this Dis- 
course and others preceding it too many little particulars 
which are quite superfluous. I think so myself ; but I know 
that if they displease some persons, they will please others. 
Methinks it is not enough when we laud persons to say that 
they are handsome, wise, virtuous, valorous, valiant, magnan- 
imous, liberal, splendid, and very perfect ; those are general 
descriptions and praises and commonplace sayings, borrowed 
from everybody. We should specify such things and describe 
particularly all perfections, so that one may, as it wei^, touch 
them with the finger. Such is my opinion, and it pleases 
me to retain and rejoice my memory with things that I 
have seen. 

Epitaph on the said Queen. 

" Beneath this stone lies Elisabeth of France : 
Who was Queen of Spain and queen of peace, 
Christian and Catholic. Her lovely presence 
Was useful to us all. Now that her noble bones 
Are dry and crumbling, lying under ground, 
We have nought but ills and wars and troubles." 





When I consider the miseries and ill-adventures of that 
beautiful Queen of Scotland of whom I have heretofore 
spoken, and of other princesses and ladies whom I shall not 
name, fearing by such digression to impair my discourse on 
the Queen of Navarre, of whom I now speak, not being as 
yet Queen of France, I cannot think otherwise than that 
Fortune, omnipotent goddess of weal and woe, is the opposing 
enemy of human beauty ; for if ever there was in the world a 
being of perfect beauty it is the Queen of Navarre, and yet 
she has been little favoured by Fortune, so far ; so that one 
may indeed say that Fortune was so jealous of Nature for 
having made this princess beautiful that she wished to run 
counter in fate. However that may be, her beauty is such 
that the blows of said Fortune have no ascendency upon her, 
for the generous courage she drew at birth from so many 
brave and valorous kings, her father, grandfather, great- 
grandfather, and their ancestors, has enabled her hitherto to 
make a brave resistance. 

To speak now of the beauty of this rare princess : I think 
that all those who are, will be, or ever have been beside it 
are plain, and cannot have beauty ; for the fire of hers so 
burns the wings of others that they dare not hover, or even 

1 Daughter of Henri IL and Catherine de' Medici, — "La Reine 
Margot." — Tk. 


appear, around it. If there be any unbeliever so cbary of 
faith as not to give credence to the miracles of God and 
Nature, let him contemplate her fine face, so nobly formed, 
and become converted, and say that Mother Nature, that 
perfect workwoman, has put all her rarest and subtlest wits 
to the making of her. For whether she shows herself smil- 
ing or grave, the sight of her serves to enkindle every one ; 
so beauteous are her features, so well defined her lineaments, 
so transparent and agreeable her eyes that they pass descrip- 
tion ; and, what is more, that beautiful face rests on a body 
still more beautiful, superb, and rich, — of a port and majesty 
more like to a goddess of heaven than a princess of earth ; 
for it is believed, on the word of several, that no goddess was 
ever seen more beautiful ; so that, in order to duly proclaim 
her beauty, virtues, and merit, God must lengthen the earth 
and heighten the sky beyond where they now are, for space 
in the airs and on the land is lacking for the flight of her 
perfection and renown. 

Those are the beauties of body and mind in this fair prin- 
cess, which I at this time represent, Kke a good painter, 
after nature and without art. I speak of those to be seen 
externally ; for those that are secret and hidden beneath 
white linen and rich accoutrements cannot be here depicted 
or judged except as being very beautiful and rare ; but this 
must be by faith, presumption, and credence, for sight is 
interdicted. Great hardship truly to be forced to see so 
beautiful a picture, made by the hand of a divine workman, 
in the half only of its perfection ; but modesty and laudable 
shamefacedness thus ordain it — for they lodge among prin- 
cesses and great ladies as they do among commoner folk. 

To bring a few examples to show how the beauty of this 
queen was admired and held for rare : I remember that when 
the Polish ambassadors came to France, to announce to our 


King Henri [then Due d'Aiijou] his election to the kingdom 
of Poland, and to render him homage and obedience, after 
they had made their reverence to King Charles, to the queen- 
mother, and to their king, they made it, very particularly, 
and for several days, to Monsieur, and to the King and Queen 
of Navarre ; but the day when they made it to the said 
Queen of Navarre she seemed to them so beautiful and so 
superbly and richly accoutred and adorned, and with such 
great majesty and grace that they were speechless at such 
beauty. Among others, there was Lasqui, the chief of the 
embassy, whom I heard say, as he retired, overcome by the 
sight : " No, never do I wish to see such beauty again. Will- 
ingly would I do as do the Turks, pilgrims to ]\Iecca, where 
the sepulchre of their prophet Mahomet is, and where they 
stand speechless, ravished, and so transfixed at the sight of 
that superb mosque that they wish to see nothing more and 
burn their eyes out with hot irons till they lose their sight, 
so subtly is it done ; saying that nothing more could be seen 
as fine, and therefore would they see nothing." Thus said 
that Pole about the beauty of our princess. And if the Poles 
were won to admiration, so were others. I instance here 
Don Juan of Austria, who (as I have said elsewhere), pass- 
ing through France as stilly as he could, and reaching Paris, 
knowing that that night a solemn ball was given at the 
Louvre, went there disguised, as much to see Queen Mar- 
guerite of Navarre as for any other purpose. He there had 
means and leisure to see her at his ease, dancing, and led by 
the king, her brother, as was usual. He gazed upon her long, 
admired her, and then proclaimed her high above the beauties 
of Spain and Italy (two regions, nevertheless, most fertile in 
beauty), saying these words in Spanish : " Though the beauty 
of that queen is more divine than human, she is made to damn 
and ruin men rather than to save them." 


Shortly after, he saw her again as she went to the baths of 
Lifege, Don Juan being then at ISTamur, where she had to 
pass; the which crowned all his hopes to enjoy so fine a 
sight, and he went to meet her with great and splendid 
Spanish magnificence, receiving her as though she were the 
Queen Elisabeth, her sister, in the latter's lifetime his queen, 
and Queen of Spain. And though he was most enchanted 
with the beauty of her body, he was the same with that of 
her mind, as I hope to show in its proper place. But it was 
not Don Juan alone who praised and delighted to praise her, 
but all his great and brave Spanish captains did the same, 
and even the very soldiers of those far-famed bands, who 
went about saying among themselves, in soldierly chorus, 
that " the conquest of such beauty was better than that of a 
kingdom, and happy would be the soldiers who, to serve her, 
would die beneath her banner." 

It is not surprising that such people, well-born and noble, 
should think this princess beautiful, but I have seen Turks 
coming on an embassy to the king her brother, barbarians 
that they were, lose themselves in gazing at her, and say 
that the pomp of their Grand Signior in going to his mosque 
or marching with his army was not so fine to see as the 
beauty of this queen. 

In short, I have seen an infinity of other strangers who 
have come to France and to the Court expressly to behold 
her whose fame had gone from end to end of Europe, so they 

I once saw a gallant Neapolitan knight, who, having come 
to Paris and the Court, and not finding the said queen, de- 
layed his return two months in order to see her, and having 
seen her he said these words : " In other days, the Princess 
of Salerno bore the like reputation for beauty in our city of 
Naples, so that a foreigner who had gone there and had not 


seen her, when he returned and related his visit, and was 
asked had he seen that princess, and answered no, was 
told that in that case he had not seen Naples. Thus 
I, if on my return without seeing this beautiful princess 
I were asked had I seen France and the Court, could 
scarcely say I had, for she is its ornament and enrichment. 
But now, having seen and contemplated her so weU, I can 
say that I have seen the greatest beauty in the world, and 
that our Princess of Salerno is as nothing to her. Now I 
am well content to go, having enjoyed so fine a sight. I 
leave you Frenchmen to think how happy you should be 
to see at your ease and daily her fine face ; and to approach 
that flame divine, which can warm and kindle frigid hearts 
from afar more than the beauty of our most beauteous 
dames near-by." Such were the words said to me one day 
by that charming Neapohtan knight. 

An honourable French gentleman, whom I could name, 
seeing her one evening, in her finest lustre and most stately 
majesty in a ball-room, said to me these words : " Ah ! if 
the Sieur des Essarts, who, in his books of ' Amadis ' forced 
himself with such pains to well and richly describe to the 
world the beautiful Nicqu^e and her glory, had seen this 
queen in his day he would not have needed to borrow so 
many rich and noble words to depict and set forth Nicqude's 
beauty; 'twould have sufi&ced him to declare she was the 
semblance and image of the Queen of Navarre, unique in 
this world; and thus the beauteous Nicqu^e would have 
been better pictured than she has been, and without 
superfluity of words." 

Therefore, M. de Eonsard had good reason to compose 
that glorious elegy found among his works in honour of 
this beautiful Princess ]\Iarguerite of France, then not mar- 
ried, in which he has introduced the goddess Venus asking 


her son whether in his rambles here below, seeing the ladies 
of the Court of France, he had found a beauty that sur- 
passed her own. " Yes, mother," Love repHed, " I have found 
one on whom the glory of the finest sky is shed since ever 
she was born." Venus flushed red and would not credit it, 
but sent a messenger, one of her Charites, to earth to ex- 
amine that beauty and make a just report. On which we 
read in the elegy a rich and fine description of the charms 
of that accomplished princess, ia the mouth of the Charite 
Pasithea, the reading of which cannot fail to please the 
world. But M. de Eonsard, as a very honourable and able 
lady said to me, stopped short and lacked a little something, 
in that he should have told how Pasithea returned to 
heaven, and there, discharging her commission, said to Venus 
that her son had only told the half ; the which so saddened 
and provoked the goddess into jealousy, making her blame 
Jupiter for the wrong he did to form on earth a beauty that 
shamed those of heaven (and principally hers, the rarest of 
them all), that henceforth she wore mourning and made ab- 
stinence from pleasures and dehghts; for there is nothing 
so vexatious to a beautiful and perfect lady as to tell her 
she has her equal, or that another can surpass her. 

Now, we must note that if our queen was beauteous in 
herself and in her nature, also she knew well how to array 
herself; and so carefully and richly was she dressed, both 
for her body and her head, that nothirig lacked to give her 
full perfection. 

To the Queen Isabella of Bavaria, wife of King Charles VI., 
belongs the praise of having brought to France the pomps 
and gorgeousness that henceforth clothed most splendidly 
and gorgeously the ladies ; ^ for in the old tapestries of that 

1 Brantome's words are gorgiaset^s and gorgiasment ; do they mark the 
introduction of ruffs around the neck, gorge ? — Tb. 


period in the houses of our kings we see portrayed the 
ladies attii'ed as they then were, in nought but drolleries, 
slovenliness, and vulgarities, in place of the beautiful, superb 
fashions, dainty headgear, inventions, and ornaments of 
our queen ; from which the ladies of the Court and France 
take pattern, so that ever since, appearing in her modes, 
they are now great ladies instead of simple madams, and so 
a hundredfold more charming and desirable. It is to our 
Queen Marguerite that ladies owe this obhgation. 

I remember (for I was there) that when the queen mother 
took this queen, her daughter, to the King of Navarre, her 
husband, she passed tlirough Coignac and made some stay. 
While they were there, came various grand and honourable 
ladies of the region to see them and do them reverence, who 
were all amazed at the beauty of the princess, and could not 
surfeit themselves in praising her to her mother, she being lost 
in joy. Wherefore she begged her daughter to array herself 
one day most gorgeously in the fine and superb apparel that 
she wore at Court for great and magnificent pomps and 
festivals, in order to give pleasure to these worthy dames. 
Which she did, to obey so good a mother ; appearing robed 
superbly in a gown of silver tissue and dove-colour, ci la 
holonnoise [bouillonnee — with puffs ?], and hanging sleeves, 
a rich head-dress with a white veil, neither too large nor yet 
too small ; the whole accompanied with so noble a majesty 
and good grace that she seemed more a goddess of heaven 
than a queen of earth. The queen-mother said to her: 
" My daughter, you look well." To which she answered : 
" Madame, I begin early to wear and to wear out my go^\^ls 
and the fashions I have brought from Court, because when 
I return I shall bring nothing with me only scissors and 
stuffs to dress me then according to current fasliions." The 
queen-mother asked her : " "Wliat do you mean by that, my 


daughter ? Is it not you yourself who invent and produce 
these fashions of dress ? Wherever you go the Court will 
take them from you., not you from the Court." Which 
was true ; for after she returned she was always in advance 
of the Court, so well did she know how to invent in her 
dainty mind all sorts of charmiag things. 

But the beauteous queen in whatsoever fashion she 
dressed, were it h, la frangaise with her tall head-dress, or in. 
a simple coif, with her grand veil, or merely in a cap, could 
never prove which of these fashions became her most and 
made her most beautiful, admirable, and lovable; for she 
well knew how to adapt herself to every mode, adjusting 
each new device in a way not common and quite inimitable. 
So that if other ladies took her pattern to form it for them- 
selves they could not rival her, as I have noticed a hundred 
times. I have seen her dressed in a robe of white satin that 
shimmered much, a trifle of rose-colour minghng in it, with 
a veil of tan crepe or Eoman gauze flung carelessly round her 
head ; yet nothing was ever more beautiful ; and whatever 
may be said of the goddesses of the olden time and the em- 
presses as we see them on ancient coins, they look, though 
splendidly accoutred, like chambermaids beside her. 

I have often heard our courtiers dispute as to which attire 
became and embellished her the most, about which each had 
his own opinion. For my part, the most becoming array in 
which I ever saw her was, as I think, and so did others, on 
the day when the queen-mother made a fete at the Tuileries 
for the Poles. She was robed in a velvet gown of Spanish 
rose, covered with spangles, with a cap of the same velvet, 
adorned with plumes and jewels of such splendour as never 
was. She looked so beautiful in this attire, as many told 
her, that she wore it often and was painted in it ; so that 
among her various portraits this one carries the day over all 


others, as the eyes of good judges will teU, for there are 
plenty of her pictures to judge by. 

When she appeared, thus dressed, at the Tuileries, I said 
to M. de Eonsard, who stood next to me : " Tell the truth, 
monsieur, do you not think that beautiful queen thus appar- 
elled is like Aurora, as she comes at dawn with her fair white 
face surrounded with those rosy tints ? — for face and gown 
have much in sympathy and likeness." M. de Eonsard 
avowed that I was right ; and on this my comparison, think- 
ing it fine, he made a sonnet, which I would fain have now, 
to insert it here. 

I also saw this our great queen at the first States-general 
at Blois on the day the king, her brother, made his harangue. 
She was dressed in a robe of orange and black (the ground 
being black with many spangles) and her great veil of cere- 
mony ; and being seated according to her rank she appeared 
so beautiful and admirable that I heard more than three 
hundred persons in that assembly say they were better in- 
structed and delighted by the contemplation of such divine 
beauty than by listening to the grave and noble words of the 
king, her brother, though he spoke and harangued his best. 
I have also seen her dressed in her natural hair without any 
artifice or peruke ; and though her hair was very black 
(having derived that from her father. King Henri), she knew 
so well how to curl and twist and arrange it after the fashion 
of her sister, the Queen of Spain, who wore none but her o\vn 
hair, that such coiffure and adornment became her as well as, 
or better than, any other. That is what it is to have beauties 
by nature, which surpasses all artifice, no matter what it may 
be. And yet she did not like the fashion much and seldom 
used it, but preferred perukes most daintily fashioned. 

In short, I should never have done did I try to describe all 
her adornments and forms of attire in which she was ever 


more and more beauteous ; for she changed them often, and 
all were so becoming and appropriate, as though Nature and 
Art were striving to outdo each other in making her beautiful. 
But this is not all ; for her fine accoutrements and adornments 
never ventured to cover her beautiful throat or her lovely 
bosom, fearing to wrong the eyes of all the world that roved 
upon so fine an object ; for never was there seen the like in 
form and whiteness, and so full and plump that often the 
courtiers died with envy when they saw the ladies, as I have 
seen them, those who were her intimates, have license to kiss 
her with great delight. 

I remember that a worthy gentleman, newly arrived at 
Court, who had never seen her, when he beheld her said to 
me these words : " I am not surprised that all you gentlemen 
should like the Court; for if you had no other pleasure than 
daily to see that princess, you have as much as though you 
lived in a terrestrial paradise." 

Eoman emperors of the olden time, to please the people 
and give them pleasure, exhibited games and combats in 
their theatres ; but to give pleasure to the people of France 
and gain their friendship, it was enough to let them often see 
Queen Marguerite, and enjoy the contemplation of so divine 
a face, which she never hid behind a mask like other ladies 
of our Court, for nearly all the time she went uncovered ; 
and once, on a flowery Easter Day at Blois, still being 
Madame, sister of the king (although her marriage was then 
being treated of), I saw her appear in the procession more 
beautiful than ever, because, besides the beauty of her face 
and form, she was most superbly adorned and apparelled ; her 
pure white face, resembling the skies in their serenity, was 
adorned about the head with quantities of pearls and jewels, 
especially brilliant diamonds, worn in the form of stars, so 
that the calm of the face and the sparkling jewels made one 



think of the heavens when starry. Her beautiful body with 
its full, tall form was robed in a gown of crinkled cloth of 
gold, the richest and most beautiful ever seen in France. 
This stuff was a gift made by the Grand Signior to M. de 
Grand-Champ, our ambassador, on his departure from Con- 
stantinople, — it being the Grand Signior's custom to present 
to those who are sent to him a piece of the said stuff 
amounting to fifteen ells, which, so Grand-Champ told me, 
cost one hundred crowns the ell ; for it was indeed a master- 
piece. He, on coming to France and not knowing how to 
employ more worthily the gift of so rich a stuff, gave it to 
Madame, the sister of the king, who made a gown of it, and 
wore it first on the said occasion, when it became her well — 
for from one grandeur to another there is only a hand's 
breadth. She wore it all that day, although its weight was 
heavy ; but her beautiful, rich, strong figure supported it well 
and served it to advantage ; for had she been a little shrimp 
of a princess, or a dame only elbow-high (as I have seen 
some), she would surely have died of the weight, or else 
have been forced to change her gown and take another. 

That is not all : being in the procession and walking in 
her rank, her visage uncovered, not to deprive the people of 
so good a feast, she seemed more beautiful still by holding 
and bearing in her hand her palm (as our queens of all time 
have done) with royal majesty and a grace half proud half 
sweet, and a manner little common and so different from 
all the rest that whoso had seen her would have said: 
" Here is a princess who goes above the run of all things in 
the world." And we courtiers went about saying, with one 
voice boldly, that she did weU to bear a palm in her hand, 
for she bore it away from others; surpassing them all in 
beauty, in grace, and in perfection. And I swear to you 
that in that procession we forgot our devotions, and did not 


make them while contemplating and admiring that divine 
princess, who ravished us more than divine service ; and yet 
we thought we committed no sin ; for whoso contemplates 
divinity on earth does not offend the divinity of heaven ; 
inasmuch as He made her such. 

When the queen, her mother, took her from Court 
to meet her husband in Gascoigne, I saw how all the 
courtiers grieved at her departure as though a great 
calamity had fallen on their heads. Some said : " The 
Court is widowed of her beauty ; " others : " The Court 
is gloomy, it has lost its sun ; " others again : " How dark 
it is ; we have no torch." And some cried out : " Why 
should Gascoigne come here gascoigning to steal our 
beauty, destined to adorn all France and the Court, Fon- 
tainebleau, Saiat-Germain, the hotel du Louvre, and all the 
other noble places of our kings, to lodge her at Pau and 
N^rac, places so unlike the others ? " But many said : " The 
deed is done ; the Court and France have lost the loveliest 
flower of their garland." 

In short, on all sides did we hear resound such little 
speeches upon this departure, — half in vexed anger, half in 
sadness, — although Queen Louise de Lorraine remained 
behind, who was a very handsome and wise princess, and 
virtuous (of whom I hope to speak more worthily in her 
place) ; but for so long the Court had been accustomed to 
that beauteous sight it could not keep from grieving and 
proffering such words. Some there were who would have 
liked to kill M. de Duras, who came from his master the 
King of ISTavarre to obtain her; and this I know. 

Once there came news to Court that she was dead in 
Auvergne some eight days. On which a person whom I 
met said to me : " That cannot be, for since that time the 
sky is clear and fine; if she were dead we should have 


seen eclipse of sun, because of the great sympathy two suns 
must have, and nothing could be seen but gloom and 

Enough has now been said, methinks, upon the beauty of 
her body, though the subject is so ample that it deserves a 
decade. I hope to speak of it again, but at present I must 
say something of her noble soul, which is lodged so well in 
that noble body. If it was born thus noble within her she 
has known how to keep it and maintain it so ; for she loves 
letters much and reading. While young, she was, for her 
age, quite perfect in them ; so that we could say of her : 
This princess is truly the most eloquent and best-speaking 
lady in the world, with the finest style of speech and the 
most agreeable to be found. When the Poles, as I have 
said before, came to do her reverence they brought with 
them the Bishop of Cracovie, the chief and head of the 
embassy, who made the harangue in Latin, he being a 
learned and accomplished prelate. The queen replied so 
pertinently and eloquently without the help of an interpreter, 
having well understood and comprehended the harangue, 
that all were struck with admiration, calling her with one 
voice a second Minerva, goddess of eloquence. 

AVhen the queen her mother took her to the king her 
husband, as I have said, she made her entry to Bordeaux, 
as was proper, being daughter and sister of a king, and wife 
of the King of Navarre, first prince of the blood, and gov- 
ernor of Guyenne. The queen her mother willed it so, for 
she loved and esteemed her much. This entry was fine; 
not so much for the sumptuous magnificence there made 
and displayed, as for the triumph of this most beautiful 
and accomplished queen of the world, mounted on a fine 
white horse superbly caparisoned ; she herself dressed all in 
orange and spangles, so sumptuously as never was ; so that 


none could get their surfeit of looking at her, admiring and 
lauding her to the skies. 

Before she entered, the State assembly of the town came 
to do reverence and offer their means and powers, and to 
harangue her at the Chartreux, as is customary. M. de 
Bordeaux [the bishop] spoke for the clergy ; M. le Mar^chal 
de Biron, as mayor, wearing his robes of office, for the town, 
and for himself as lieutenant-general afterwards ; also M. 
Largebaston, chief president for the courts of law. She 
answered them all, one after the other (for I heard her, be- 
ing close beside her on the scaffold, by her command), so 
eloquently, so wisely and promptly and with such grace 
and majesty, even changing her words to each, without 
reiterating the first or the second, although upon the same 
subject (which is a thing to be remarked upon), that 
when I saw that evening the said president he said to me, 
and to others in the queen's chamber, that he had never 
in his life heard better speech from any one ; and that he 
understood such matters, having had the honour to hear the 
two queens. Marguerite and Jeanne, her predecessors, speak 
at the like ceremonies, — they having had in their day the 
most golden-speaking lips in France (those were the words he 
used to me) ; and yet they were but novices and apprentices 
compared to her, who truly was her mother's daughter. 

I repeated to the queen, her mother, this that the presi- 
dent had said to me, of which she was glad as never was ; 
and told me that he had reason to think and say so, for, 
though she was her daughter, she could call her, without 
falsehood, the most accomplished princess in the world, able 
to say exactly what she wished to say the best. And in like 
manner I have heard and seen ambassadors, and great for- 
eign seigneurs, after they had spoken with her, depart con- 
founded by her noble speech. 


I have often heard her make such fine discourse, so grave 
and so sententious, that could I put it clearly and correctly 
here in writing I should delight and amaze the world ; but 
it is not possible ; nor could any one transcribe her words, so 
inimitable are they. 

But if she is grave, and full of majesty and eloquence in 
her high and serious discourses, she is just as full of charm- 
ing grace in gay and witty speech ; jesting so prettily, with 
give and take, that her company is most agreeable; for, 
though she pricks and banters others, 't is all so d, propos and 
excellently said that no one can be vexed, but only glad of it. 

But further : if she knows how to speak, she knows also 
how to write ; and the beautiful letters we have seen from 
her attest it. They are the finest, the best couched, whether 
they be serious or f amihar, and such that the greatest writers 
of the past and present may hide their heads and not pro- 
duce their own when hers appear ; for theirs are trifles near 
to hers. No one, having read them, would fail to laugh 
at Cicero with his familiar letters. And whoso would collect 
Queen Marguerite's letters, together with her discourses, would 
make a school and training for the world ; and no one should 
feel surprised at this, for, in herself, her mind is sound and 
quick, with great information, wise and solid. She is a 
queen in all things, and deserves to rule a mighty kingdom, 
even an empire, — about which I shall make the following 
digression, all the more because it has to do with the present 

When her marriage was granted at Blois to the King of 
Navarre, difficulties were made by Queen Jeanne [d'Albret, 
Henri IV.'s mother], very different then from what she wrote 
to my mother, who was her lady of honour, and at this time 
sick in her own house. I have read the letter, writ by her 
own hand, in the archives of our house ; it says thus : — 



" I write you this, my great friend, to rejoice and give you 
health with the good news my husband sends me. He hav- 
ing had the boldness to ask of the king Madame, his young 
daughter, for our son, the king has done him the honour to 
grant it ; for which I cannot tell you the happiness I have." 

There is much to be said thereon. At this time there was 
at our Court a lady whom I shall not name, as silly as she 
could be. Being with the queen-mother one evening at her 
coucher, the queen inquired of her ladies if they had seen her 
daughter, and whether she seemed joyful at the granting of 
her marriage. This silly lady, who did not yet know her 
Court, answered first and said : " How, madame, should she 
not be joyful at such a marriage, inasmuch as it will lead to 
the crown and make her some day Queen of France, when it 
falls to her future husband, as it well may do in time." The 
queen, hearing so strange a speech, replied : " Ma mie, you are 
a great fool. I would rather die a thousand deaths than see 
your foolish prophecy accomplished ; for I hope and wish 
long life and good prosperity to the king, my son, and all my 
other children." On which a very great lady, one of her 
intimates, inquired : " But, madame, in case that great mis- 
fortune — from which God keep us ! — happens, would you 
not be very glad to see your daughter Queen of France, inas- 
much as the crown would fall to her by right through that 
of her husband ? " To which the queen made answer : 
" Much as I love this daughter, I think, if that should hap- 
pen, we should see France much tried with evils and misfor- 
tunes. I would rather die (as she did in fact) than see her 
in that position ; for I do not believe that France would obey 
the King of Navarre as it does my sons, for many reasons 
which I do not tell." 

Behold two prophecies accomplished : one, that of the fool- 
ish lady, the other, but only till her death, that of the able 


princess. The latter prophecy has failed to-day, by the grace 
which God has given our king [Henri IV.], and by the force 
of his good sword and the valour of his brave heart, wliich have 
made him so great, so victorious, so feared, and so absolute 
a king as he is to-day after too many toils and hindrances. 
May God preserve him by His holy grace in such prosperity, 
for we need him much, we his poor subjects. 

The queen said further : " If by the abohtion of the Sahc 
law, the kingdom should come to my daughter in her own 
right, as other kingdoms have fallen to the distaff, certainly 
my daughter is as capable of reigning, or more so, as most 
men and kings whom I have known ; and I think that her 
reign would be a fine one, equal to that of the king her 
grandfather and that of the king her father, for she has a 
great mind and great virtues for doing that thing." And 
thereupon she went on to say how great an abuse was the 
Salic law, and that she had heard M. le Cardinal de Lorraine 
say that when he arranged the peace between the two kiags 
with the other deputies in the abbey of Cercan, a dispute 
came up on a point of the Salic law touching the succession 
of women to the kingdom of France ; and M. le Cardinal de 
Grandvelle, otherwise caUed d' Arras, rebuked the said Cardinal 
de Lorraine, declaring that the Salic law was a veritable abuse, 
which old dreamers and chroniclers had written down, with- 
out knowing why, and so made it accepted; although, in 
fact, it was never made or decreed in France, and was only a 
custom that Frenchmen had given each other from hand to 
hand, and so introduced ; whereas it was not just, and, conse- 
quently, was violable. 

Thus said the queen-mother. And, when aU is said, it 
was Pharamond, as most people hold, who brought it from 
his own country and introduced it in France ; and we cer- 
tainly ought not to observe it, because he was a pagan ; and 


to keep so strictly among us Christians the laws of a pagan 
is an offence against God. It is true that most of our laws 
come from pagan emperors ; but those which are holy, just, 
and equitable (and truly there are many), we ourselves have 
ruled by them. But the Salic law of Pharamond is unjust 
and contrary to the law of God, for it is written in the Old 
Testament, in the twenty-seventh chapter of Numbers : " If 
a man die and have no son ye shall cause his inheritance to 
pass to his daughter." This sacred law demands, therefore, 
that females shall inherit after males. Besides, if Scripture 
were taken at its word on this Salic law, there would be no 
such great harm done, as I have heard great personages say, 
for they speak thus : " So long as there be males, females can 
neither inherit nor reign. Consequently, in default of males, 
females should do so. And, inasmuch as it is legal in Spain, 
Navarre, England, Scotland, Hungary, Naples, and Sicily that 
females should reign, why should it not be the same in 
France ? For what is right in one place is right everywhere 
and in aU places ; places do not make the justice of the 

In all the fiefs we have in France, duchies, counties, 
baronies, and other honourable lordships, which are nearly 
and even greatly royal in their rights and privileges, many 
women, married and unmarried, have succeeded; as in 
Bourbon, VendSme, Montpensier, Nevers, Eh^tel, Flandres, 
Eu, Bourgogne, Artois, Zellande, Bretaigne ; and even like 
Mathilde, who was Duchesse de Normandie ; Eldonore, 
Duchesse de Guyenne, who enriched Henry II., King of 
England ; Beatrix, Comtesse de Provence, who brought that 
province to King Louis, her husband ; the only daughter of 
Eaimond, Comtesse de Thoulouse, who brought Thoulouse 
to Alfonse, brother of Saint-Louis ; also Anne, Duchesse de 
Bretaigne, and others. Why, therefore, should not the king- 


dom of France call to itself in like manner the daughters of 
France ? 

Did not the beautiful Galatea rule in Gaul when Hercules 
married her after his conquest of Spain ? — from which mar- 
riage issued our brave, valiant, generous Gauls, who in the 
olden time made themselves laudable. 

Why should the daughters of dukes in this kingdom be 
more capable of governing a duchy or a county and ad- 
ministering justice (which is the duty of kings) than the 
daughters of kings to rule the kingdom of France ? As if 
the daughters of France were not as capable and fitted to 
command and reign as those of other kingdoms and fiefs 
that I have named ! 

For still greater proof of the iniquity of the Salic law it 
is enough to show that so many chroniclers, writers, and 
praters, who have all written about it, have never yet agreed 
among themselves as to its etymology and definition. Some, 
like Postel, consider that it takes its ancient name and 
origin from the Gauls, and is only called Salic instead of 
Gallic because of the proximity and likeness in old type 
between the letter S and the letter G. But Postel is as 
visionary in that (as a great personage said to me) as he is 
in other things. 

Jean Ceval, Bishop of Avranches, a great searcher into 
the antiquities of Gaul and France, tried to trace it to the 
word scdlc, because this law was ordained only for salles and 
royal palaces. 

Claude Seissel thinks, rather inappropriately, that it comes 
from the word sal in Latin, as a law full of salt, that of 
sapience, wisdom, a metaphor drawn from salt. 

A doctor of laws, named Ferrarius Montanus, will have it 
that Pharamond was otherwise called Salicq. Others 
derive it from Sallogast, one of the principal councillors of 


Others again, wishing to be still more subtle, say that the 
derivation is taken from the frequent sections in the said 
law beginning with the words: si aliquis, si aliqua. But 
some say it comes from Frangois Saliens ; and it is so men- 
tioned in Marcellin.^ 

So here are many puzzles and musings ; and it is not to 
be wondered at that the Bishop of Arras disputed the 
matter with the Cardinal de Lorraine : just as those of his 
nation in their jests and jugglings, supposing that this law 
was a new invention, called Philippe de Yalois le roi t7vuve, 
as if, by a new right never recognized before in France, 
he had made himself king. On which was founded that, 
the county of Flanders having fallen to a distaff. King 
Charles V. of France did not claim any right or title to 
it ; on the contrary, he portioned his brother Phihppe 
with Bourgogne in order to make his marriage with the 
Countess of Flanders ; not wishing to take her for him- 
self, thinking her less beautiful, though far more rich, than 
her of Bourbon. Which is a great proof and assurance that 
the Salic law was not observed except as to the crown. And 
it cannot be doubted that women, could they come to the 
throne, beautiful, honourable, and virtuous as the one of 
whom I here speak, would draw to them the hearts of their 
subjects by their beauty and sweetness far more than men 
do by their strength. 

M. du Tillet says that Queen Clotilde made France accept 
the Christian religion, and since then no queen has ever 
wandered from it ; which is a great honour to queens, for 
it was not so with the kings after Clovis ; Chilperic I. 
was stained with Arian error, and was checked only by 

1 The Salic law : so called from being derived from the laws of the 
ancient Salian Franks, — according to Stormonth, Littre, and Cassell's 
Cyclopaedia. — Te. 


the firm resistance of two prelates of the Gallican church, 
according to the statement of Grdgoire de Tours. 

Moreover, was not Catherine, daughter of Charles VI., 
ordained Queen of France by the king, her father, and his 
councH [in 1420] ? 

Du Tillet further says that the daughters of France were 
held in such honour that although they were married to less 
than kings they nevertheless kept their royal titles and were 
called queens with their proper names ; an honour which was 
given them for hfe to demonstrate forever that they were 
daughters of the kings of France. This ancient custom 
shows dumbly that the daughters of France can be sovereigns 
as well as the sons. 

In the days of the King Saint-Louis it is recorded of a court 
of peers held by him that the Countess of Flanders was pres- 
ent, taking part with the peers. This shows how the Salic 
law was not kept, except as to the crown. Let us see still 
further what M. du Tillet says: — 

"By the Sahc law, written for all subjects, where there 
were no sons the daughters inherited the patrimony ; and this 
should rule the crown also, so that Mesdames the daughters 
of France, in default of sons, should take it ; nevertheless, 
they are perpetually excluded by custom and the private law 
of the house of France, based on the arrogance of Frenchmen, 
who cannot endure to be governed by women." And else- 
where he says : " One cannot help being amazed at the long 
ignorance that has attributed this custom to the Salic law, 
which is quite the contrary of it." 

King Charles V., treating of the marriage of Queen Marie 
of France, his daughter, with Guillaume, Count of Hainault, 
in the year 1374, stipulated for the renunciation by the said 
count of all right to the kingdom and to Dauphini^ ; which 
is a great point, for see the contradictions ! 


Certainly if women could handle arms like men they could 
make themselves accredited; but by way of compensation, 
they have their beautiful faces ; which, however, are not 
recognized as they deserve ; for surely it is better to be gov- 
erned by beautiful, lovely, and honourable women than by 
tiresome, conceited, ugly, and sullen men such as I have seen 
in this France of ours. 

I would like to know if this kingdom has found itself any 
better for an infinitude of conceited, silly, tyrannical, foolish, 
do-nothing, idiotic, and crazy kings — not meaning to accuse 
our brave Pharamond, Clodion, Clovis, P^pin, Martel, Charles, 
Louis, Philippe, Jean, FranQois, Henri, for they are all brave 
and magnanimous, those kings, and happy they who were 
under them — than it would have been with an infinitude of 
the daughters of France, very able, very prudent, and very 
worthy to govern. I appeal to the regency of the mothers 
of kings to show this, to wit : — 

Fr^d^gonde, how did she administer the affairs of France 
during the minority of King Clothaire, her son, if not so 
wisely and dexterously that he found himself before he died 
monarch of Gaul and of much of Germany ? 

The like did Mathilde, wife of Dagobert, as to Clovis II., 
her son ; and, long after, Blanche, mother of Saint-Louis, who 
behaved so wisely, as I have read, that, just as the Eoman 
emperors chose to call themselves " Augustus " in commemo- 
ration of the luck and prosperity of Augustus, the great 
emperor, so the former queen-mothers after the decease of 
the kings, their husbands, desired each to be called " Peine 
Blanche," in honourable memory of the government of that 
wise princess. Though M. du Tillet contradicts this a little, 
I have heard it from a very great senator. 

And, to come lower down, Isabeau of Bavaria had the 
regency of her husband, Charles VI. (who lost his good 


sense), by tlie advice of the Council ; and so had Madame de 
Bourbon for little King Charles VIII. during his minority ; 
Madame Louise de Savoie for King Frani^ois I.; and our 
queen-mother for King Charles IX., her son. 

If, therefore, foreign ladies (except Madame de Bourbon, 
who was daughter of France) were capable of governing 
France so well, why should not our own ladies do as much, 
having good zeal and affection, they being born here and 
suckled here, and the matter touching them so closely? 

I should like to know in what our last kings have sur- 
passed our last three daughters of France, Ehsabeth, Claude, 
and Marguerite ; and whether if the latter had come to be 
queens of France they would not have governed it (I do not 
wish to accuse the regency, which was very great and very 
wise) as well as their brothers. I have heard many great 
personages, well-informed and far-seeing, say that possibly 
we should not have had the evils we did have, now have, 
and shall have still ; adducing reasons too long to put here. 
But the common and vulgar fool says : " Must observe the 
Salic law." Poor idiot that he is ! does he not know that 
the Germans, from whose stock we issued, were wont to call 
their women to affairs of State, as we learn from Tacitus ? 
From that, we can see how this Salic law has been corrupted. 
It is but mere custom ; and poor women, imable to enforce 
their rights by the point of the sword, men have excluded, 
and driven them from everything. Ah ! why have we no 
more brave and valiant paladins of France, — a Eoland, a 
Eenaud, an Ogier, a Deudon, an Olivier, a Graffon, an Yvon, 
and an infinity of other braves, whose glory and profession it 
was to succour ladies and support them in the troubles and 
adversities of their lives, their honour, and their fortunes ? 
Why are they here no longer to maintain the rights of our 
Queen Marguerite, daughter of France, who barely enjoys 


an inch of land in France, which she quitted in noble state, 
though to her, perhaps, the whole belongs by right divine 
and human ? Queen Marguerite, who does not even enjoy 
her county of Auvergne, which is hers by law and equity 
as the sole heiress of the queen, her mother, is now with- 
drawn into the castle of Usson, amid the deserts, rocks, 
and mountains of Auvergne, — a different habitation, verily, 
from the great city of Paris, where she ought now to be 
seated on her throne and place of justice, which belongs to 
her in her own right as well as by that of her husband. 
But the misfortune is that they are not there together. If 
both were again united in body and soul and friendship, as 
they once were, possibly all would go right once more, and 
together they would be feared, respected, and known for 
what they are. 

(Since this was written God has willed that they be recon- 
ciled, which is indeed great luck.) 

I heard M. de Pibrac say on one occasion that these 
Navarre marriages are fatal, because husband and wife are 
always at variance, — as was the case with Louis Hutin, 
King of France and of Navarre, and Marguerite de Bour- 
gogne, daughter of Due Piobert III. ; also Philippe le Long, 
King of France and Navarre, with Jeanne, daughter of Comte 
Othehn of Bourgogne, who, being found innocent, was vindi- 
cated well ; also Charles le Bel, King of France and of Navarre, 
with Blanche, daughter of Othelin, another Comte de Bour- 
gogne ; and further, King Henri d'Albret with Marguerite de 
Valois, who, as I have heard on good authority, treated her 
very ill, and would have done worse had not King Francois, 
her brother, spoken sternly to him and threatened him for 
honouring his sister so little, considering the rank she held. 

The last King Antoine of Navarre died also on ill terms 
with Queen Jeanne, his wife ; and our Queen Marguerite is 


now in dispute and separation from her husband ; but God 
will some day happily unite them in spite of these evil 

I have heard a princess say that Queen Marguerite saved 
her husband's life on the massacre of Saint-Bartholomew ; 
for indubitably he was proscribed and his name written on 
the " red paper," as it was called, because it was necessary, 
they said, to tear up the roots, namely, the King of Navarre, 
the Prince de Cond6, Amiral de Coligny, and other great 
personages ; but the said Queen Marguerite flung herself on 
her knees before King Charles, to implore him for the hfe of 
her husband and lord.^ King Charles would scarcely grant 
it to her, although she was his good sister. I relate this for 
what it is worth, as I know it only by hearsay. But she 
bore this massacre very impatiently and saved several, among 
them a Gascon gentleman (I think his name was Ldran), who, 
wounded as he was, took refuge beneath her bed, she being 
in it, and the murderers pursuing him to the door, from 
which she drove them ; for she was never cruel, but kind, 
like a daughter of France. 

They say that the quarrel between herself and her hus- 
band came more from the difference in their religion than 
from anything else; for they each loved his and her own, 
and supported it strongly. The queen having gone to Pau, 
the chief town of Bt^arn, she caused the mass to be said there ; 
and a certain secretary of the king, her husband, named le Pin, 
who had formerly belonged to M. 1' Amiral, not being able to 
stomach it, put several of the inhabitants of the town who 
had been present at the mass into prison. The queen was 
much displeased ; and he, wishing to remonstrate, spoke to 
her much louder than he should, and very indiscreetly, even 

1 Marguerite was married to Henri, King of Navarre, six days before 
the massacre of Saint-Bartholomew, August, 1572. 


before the king, who gave him a good rebuke and dismissed 
him ; for King Henri knows well how to like and respect what 
he ought ; being as brave and generous as his fine and noble 
actions have always manifested ; of which I shall speak at 
length in his life. 

The said le Pin fell back upon the edict which is there 
made, and to be observed under penalty, namely, that mass 
shall not be said. The queen, feeling herself insulted, and 
God knows she was, vowed and declared she would never 
agaiu set foot in that country because she chose to be free 
in the exercise of her rehgion ; whereupon she departed, and 
has ever since kept her oath very carefully. 

I have heard it said that nothing lay so heavily on her 
heart as this indignity of being deprived of the exercise of 
her religion ; for which reason she begged the queen, her 
good mother, to come and fetch her and take her to France 
to see the king and Monsieur, his brother, whom she hon- 
oured and loved much. Having arrived, she was not received 
and seen by the king, her brother, as she should have been. 
Seeing this great change since she had left France, and the 
rise of many persons she would never have thought of to 
grandeurs, it irked her much to be forced to pay court to 
them, as others, her equals, were now doing ; and far from 
doing so herself, she despised them openly, as I well saw, so 
high was her courage. Alas ! too high, certainly, for it caused 
her misfortunes ; had she been willing to restrain herself 
and lower her courage the least in the world she would not 
have been thwarted and vexed as she has been. 

As to which I shall relate this story : when the king, her 
brother, went to Poland, he being there, she knew that 
M. du Gua, much favoured by her brother, had made some 
remarks to her disadvantage, enough to set brother and sister 
at variance or enmity. At the end of a certain time M. du 



Gua returned from Poland and arrived at Court, bearing let- 
ters from the king to his sister, which he went to her apart- 
ment to give her and kiss hands. This I saw myself. When 
she beheld him enter she was in great wrath, and as he came 
to her to present the letter she said to him, with an angry- 
face : " Lucky for you, du Gua, that you come before me with 
this letter from my brother, which serves you as a safeguard, 
for I love him much and all who come from him are free 
from me ; but without it, I would teach you to speak about 
a princess like myself, the sister of your kings, your masters 
and sovereigns." M. du Gua answered very humbly : " I 
should never, madame, have presented myself before you, 
knowing that you wish me ill, without some good message 
from the king, my master, who loves you, and whom you 
love also; or without feeling assured, madame, that for love 
of him, and because you are good and generous, you would 
hear me speak." And then, after making her his excuses and 
telling his reasons (as he knew well how to do), he denied 
very positively that he had ever spoken against the sister of 
his kings otherwise than very reverently. On which she 
dismissed him with an assurance that she would ever be 
his cruel enemy, — a promise which she kept until his 

After a while the king wrote to Mme. de Dampierre and 
begged her, for the sake of giving him pleasure, to induce 
the Queen of Navarre to pardon M. du Gua, which Mme. de 
Dampierre undertook with very great regret, knowing well 
the nature of the said queen ; but because the king loved 
her and trusted her, she took the errand and went one day 
to see the said queen in her room. Finding her in pretty 
good humour, she opened the matter and made the appeal, 
namely : that to keep the good graces, friendship, and favour 
of the king, her brother, who was now about to become 


King of France, she ought to pardon M. du Gua, forget the 
past, and take him again into favour ; for the king loved 
and favoured him above his other friends ; and by thus 
taking M. du Gua as a friend she would gain through him 
many pleasures and good offices, inasmuch as he quietly 
governed the king, his master, and it was much better to 
have his help than to make him desperate and goad him 
against her, because he could surely do her much harm ; 
telling her how she had seen in her time during the reign 
of Francois I., Mesdames Madeleine and Marguerite, one 
Queen of Scotland later, the other Duchesse de Savoie, her 
aunts, although their hearts were as high and lofty as her 
own, bring down their pride so low as to pay court to M. 
de Sourdis, who was only master of the wardrobe to the 
king, their father ; yet they even sought him, hoping by his 
means, to obtain the favour of the king ; and thus, taking 
example by her aunts, she ought to do the same herself in 
relation to M. du Gua. 

The Queen of Navarre, having listened very attentively 
to Mme. de Dampierre, answered her rather coldly, but with 
a smiling face, as her manner was : " Madame de Dampierre, 
what you say to me may be good for you ; you need favours, 
pleasures, and benefits, and were I you the words you say to 
me might be very suitable and proper to be received and put 
in practice ; but to me, who am the daughter of a king, the 
sister of kings, and the wife of a king, they have no mean- 
ing ; because with that high and noble rank I cannot, for my 
honour's sake, be a beggar of favours and benefits from the 
king, my brother ; and I hold him to be of too good a nature 
and too well acquainted with his duty to deny me anything 
unless I have the favour of a du Gua ; if otherwise, he will 
do great wrong to himself, his honour, and his royalty. And 
even if he be so unnatural as to forget himself and what he 


owes to me, I prefer, for my honour's sake and as my courage 
tells me, to be deprived of Ms good graces, because I would 
not seek du Gua to gain his favours, or be even suspected of 
gaining them by such means and intercession; and if the 
king, my brother, feels himself worthy to be king, and to 
be loved by me and by his people, I feel myself, as his 
sister, worthy to be queen and loved, not only by him but 
by all the world. And if my aunts, as you allege, degraded 
themselves as you say, let them do as they would if such 
was their humour, but their example is no law to me, nor 
will I imitate it, or form myself on any model if not my 
own." On that she was silent, and Mme. de Dampierre 
retired ; not that the queen was angry with her or showed 
her ill-will, for she loved her much. 

Another time, when M. d'Epernon went to Gascoigne 
after the death of Monsieur (a journey made for various 
purposes, so they said), he saw the King of Navarre at 
Pamiers, and they made great cheer and caresses to each 
other. I speak thus because at that time M. d'Spernon 
was semi-king of France because of the dissolute favour 
he had with his master, the King of France. After having 
caressed and made good cheer together the King of Navarre 
asked him to go and see him at N^rac when he had been 
to Toulouse and was on his way back ; which he promised 
to do. The King of Navarre having gone there first to 
make preparations to feast him well, the Queen of Navarre, 
who was then at N^rac, and who felt a deadly hatred to ]\I. 
d'Epernon, said to the king, her husband, that she would 
leave the place so as not to disturb or hinder the fete, not 
being able to endure the sight of M. d'Epernon without some 
scandal or venom of anger which she might disgorge, and so 
give annoyance to the king, her husband. On which the 
king begged her, by all the pleasures that she could give 


him, not to stir, but to help him to receive the said Sieur 
d'Epernon and to put her rancour against him underfoot 
for love of him, her husband, and all the more because it 
greatly concerned both of them and their grandeur. 

" Well, monsieur," rephed the queen, " since you are 
pleased to command it, I will remain and give him good 
cheer out of respect to you and the obedience that I owe 
to you." After which she said to some of her ladies : " But 
I will answer for it that on the days that man is here I 
will dress in habihments I never yet have worn, namely : 
dissimulation and hypocrisy ; I will so mask my face with 
shams that the king shall see there only good and honest 
welcome and all gentleness ; and hkewise I will lay discre- 
tion on my Hps, so that externally I will make him think 
my heart internally is kind, which otherwise I would not 
answer for ; I do this being nowise in my own control, but 
wholly in his, — so lofty is he and full of frankness, unable 
to bear vileness or the venom of hypocrisy, or to abase 
himself in any way. 

Therefore, to content the kiQg, her husband, for she 
honoured him much, as he did her, she disguised her feelings 
in such a way that, M. d'Epernon being brought to her 
apartment, she received him in the same manner the king 
had asked of her and she had promised ; so that all present, 
the chamber being full of persons eager to see the entrance 
and the interview, marvelled much, while the king and 
M. d'Epernon were quite content. But the most clear- 
sighted and those who knew the nature of the queen mis- 
doubted something hidden within ; and she herself said 
afterwards it was a comedy in which she played a part 

These are two tales by which to see the lofty courage of 
this queen, the which was such, as I have heard the queen, 


her mother, say (discoursing of this topic), that she resembled 
in this her father ; and that she, the queen-mother, had no 
other child so hke him, as much in ways, humours, linea- 
ments, and features of the face as in courage and generosity ; 
telling also how she had seen King Henri during King 
Francois' lifetime unable for a kingdom to pay his court and 
cringe to Cardinal de Tournon or to Amiral d'Annebault, 
the favourites of King rran§ois, even though he might 
often have had peace with Emperor Charles had he been 
willing so to do ; but his honour could not submit to such 
attentions. And so, like father, like daughter. Neverthe- 
less, all that injured her much. I remember an infinite 
number of annoyances and indignities she received at Court, 
which I shall not relate, they are too odious ; until at last 
she was sent away, with great affront and yet most innocent 
of what they put upon her ; the proofs of which were known 
to many, as I know myself ; also the king, her husband, was 
convinced of it, so that he brought King Henri to account, 
which was very good of him, and henceforth there resulted 
between the two brothers [-in-law] a certain hatred and 

The war of the League happened soon after ; and because 
the Queen of Navarre feared some evil at Court, being a 
strong Catholic, she retired to Agen, which had been given 
to her with the region about it by her brothers, as an ap- 
panage and gift for life. As the Catholic religion was con- 
cerned, which it was necessary to maintain, and also to 
exterminate the other, she wished to fortify her side as best 
she could and repress the other side. But in this she was 
ill-served by means of Mme. de Duras, who governed her 
much, and made, in her name, great exactions and extor- 
tions. The people of the to^vn were embittered, and covertly 
sought their freedom and a means to drive away their lady 


and her bailiffs. On which disturbance the Mar^chal de 
Matignon took occasion to make enterprise against the town, 
as the king, having learned the state of things, commanded 
him with great joy to do in order to aggravate his sister, 
whom he did not love, to more and more displeasure. This 
enterprise, which failed at first, was led the second time so 
dexterously by the said marshal and the inhabitants, that 
the town was taken by force with such rapidity and alarm 
that the poor queen, in spite of all she could do, was forced 
to mount in pillion behind a gentleman, and Mme. de Duras 
behind another, and escape as quickly as they could, riding 
a dozen leagues without stopping, and the next day as much 
more, to find safety in the strongest fortress of France, 
which is Carlat. Being there, and thinking herself in safety, 
she was, by the manoeuvres of the king, her brother (who 
was a very clever and very subtle king, if ever there was 
one), betrayed by persons of that country and the fortress, 
so that when she fled she became a prisoner in the hands of 
the Marquis de Canillac, governor of Auvergne, and was 
taken to the castle of Usson, a very strong fortress also, 
almost impregnable, which that good and sly fox Louis XI. 
had made such, in order to lodge his prisoners in a hundred- 
fold more security than at Loches, Bois de Yincennes, or 

Here, then, was this poor princess a prisoner, and treated 
not as a daughter of France or the great princess that she 
was. But, at any rate, if her body was captive, her brave 
heart was not, and it never failed her, but helped her well 
and did not let her yield to her affliction. See what a great 
heart can do, led by great beauty ! For he who held her 
prisoner became her prisoner in time, brave and valiant 
though he was. Poor man ! what else could he expect ? 
Did he think to hold subject and captive in his prison one 


whose eyes and beauteous face could subject the whole 
world to her bonds and chams like galley-slaves ! 

So here was the marquis ravished and taken by her 
beauty ; but she, not dreaming of the delights of love, only 
of her honour and her Uberty, played her game so shrewdly 
that she soon became the stronger, seized the fort, and drove 
away the marquis, much dumfounded at such surprise and 
military tactics. 

There she has now been six or seven years,i not, however, 
with all the pleasures of hfe, being despoiled of the county 
of Auvergue by M. le Grand Prieur de France, whom the 
king induced the queen-mother to institute count and heir in 
her will ; regretting much that she could not leave the queen, 
her good daughter, anything of her own, so great was the 
hatred that the king bore her. Alas ! what mutation was 
this from the time when, as I saw myself, they loved each 
other much, and were one in body, soul, and will ! Ah ! how 
often was it fine to see them discourse together ; for, whether 
they were grave or gay, nothing could be finer than to see 
and hear them, for both could say what they wished to say. 
Ah ! how changed the times are since we saw them in that 
great ball-room, dancing together in such beautiful accord of 
dance and will ! The king always led her to the dance at 
the great balls. If one had a noble majesty the other had 
none the less ; the eyes of all were never surfeited or de- 
lighted enough by so agreeable a sight ; for the sets were so 
well danced, the steps so correctly performed, the stops so 
finely made that we knew not which to admire most, their 
beautiful fashion of dancing or their majesty in pausing ; 
representing now a gay demeanour and next a noble, grave 

1 Marguerite lived eighteen years in the castle of Usson, from 1587 to 
1605. She died in Paris, March 27, 1615, at the age of sixty-two, rather 
less than one year after Brantome. (French editor.) 


disdain ; for no one ever saw them in the dance that did not 
say they had seen no dance so fine with grace and majesty 
as this of the king-brother and the queen-sister. As for me, 
I am of that opinion; and yet I have seen the Queen of 
Spain and the Queen of Scotland dance most beautifully. 

Also I have seen them dance the Itahan pazzemeno [the 
minuet, menu pas], now advancing with grave port and 
majesty, doing their steps so gravely and so well ; next glid- 
ing only ; and anon making most fine and dainty and grave 
passages, that none, princes or others, could approach, nor 
ladies, because of the majesty that was not lacking. Where- 
fore this queen took infinite pleasure in these grave dances 
on account of her grace and dignity and majesty, which she 
displayed the better in these than in others like bransles, and 
volts, and courants. The latter she did not like, although she 
danced them well, because they were not worthy of her 
majesty, though very proper for the common graces of other 

I have seen her sometimes like to dance the hransle by 
torchlight. I remember that once, being at Lyon, on the 
return of the king from Poland, at the marriage of Besne 
(one of her maids of honour) she danced the hransle before 
many foreigners from Savoie, Piedmont, Italy, and elsewhere, 
who declared they had never seen anything so fine as this 
queen, a grave and noble lady, as indeed she is. One of 
them there was who went about declaring that she needed 
not, like other ladies, the torch she carried in her hand ; for 
the light within her eyes, which could not be extinguished 
like the other, was sufficient ; the which had other virtue 
than leading men to dance, for it inflamed all those about 
her, yet could not be put out like the one she had in hand, 
but lit the night amid the darkness and the day beneath the 


For this reason must we say that Fortune has been to us 
as great an enemy as to her, in that we see no longer that 
bright torch, or rather that fine sun which lighted us, now 
hidden among those hills and mountains of Auvergne. If 
only that light had placed itself in some fine port or haven 
near the sea, where passing mariners might be guided, safe 
from wreck and peril, by its beacon, her dwelling would be 
nobler, more profitable, more honourable for herself and us. 
Ah ! people of Provence, you ought to beg her to dwell upon 
your seacoasts or witliin your ports ; then would she make 
them more famous than they are, more inhabited and richer ; 
from all sides men in galleys, ships, and vessels would flock 
to see this wonder of the world, as in old times to that of 
Ehodes, that they might see its glorious and far-shining 
pharos. Instead of wliich, begirt by barriers of mountains, 
she is hidden and unknown to all our eyes, except that we 
have still her lovely memory. Ah ! beautiful and ancient 
town of Marseille, happy would you be if your port were 
honoured by the flame and beacon of her splendid eyes ! 
For the county of Provence belongs to her, as do several 
other provinces in France. Cursfed be the unhappy obstinacy 
of this kingdom which does not seek to bring her hither with 
the king, her husband, to be received, honoured and wel- 
comed as they should be. (This I wrote at the very height 
of the Wars of the League.) 

Were she a bad, malicious, miserly, or tyrannical princess 
(as there have been a plenty in times past in France, and 
will be, possibly, again), I should say nothing in her favour; 
but she is good, most splendid, liberal, giving all to others, 
keeping httle for herself, most charitable, and giving freely 
to the poor. The great she made ashamed with liberalities ; 
for I have seen her make presents to all the Court on New 
Year's Day such as the kings, her brothers, could not equal 


On one occasion she gave Queen Louise de Lorraine a fan 
made of mother-of-pearl enriched with precious stones and 
pearls of price, so beautiful and rich that it was called a 
masterpiece and valued at more than fifteen thousand crowns. 
The other, to return the present, sent her sister those long 
aiguillettes which Spaniards call puntas, enriched with certain 
stones and pearls, that might have cost a hundred crowns ; 
and with these she paid for that fine New Year's gift, which 
was, certainly, most dissimilar. 

In short, this queen is in all things royal and liberal, 
honourable and magnificent, and, let it not displease the 
empresses of long past days, their splendours described by 
Suetonius, Pliny, and others, do not approach her own in 
any way, either in Court or city, or in her journeys through 
the open country ; witness her gilded litters so superbly 
covered and painted with fine devices, her coaches and car- 
riages the same, and her horses so fine and so richly 

Those who have seen, as I have, these splendid appurte- 
nances know what I say. And must she now be deprived 
of aU this, so that for seven years she has not stirred from 
that stern, unpleasant castle ? — in which, however, she takes 
patience ; such virtue has she of self-command, one of the 
greatest, as many wise philosophers have said ! 

To speak once more of her kindness : it is such, so noble, 
so frank, that, as I believe, it has done her harm ; for though 
she has had great grounds and great means to be revenged 
upon her enemies and injure them, she has often withheld 
her hand when, had she employed those means or caused 
them to be employed, and commanded others, who were 
ready enough, to chastise those enemies with her consent, 
they would have done so wisely and discreetly ; but she 
resigned all vengeances to God. 


Tliis is what M. du Gua said to her once when she 
threatened him: "Madame, you are so kind and generous 
that I never heard it said you did harm to any one ; and I 
do not think you will begin with me, who am your very 
humble servitor." And, in fact, although he greatly injured 
her, she never returned him the same in vengeance. It is 
true that when he was killed and they came to tell her, she 
merely said, being ill : " I am sorry I am not well enough 
to celebrate his death with joy." She had also this other 
kindness in her : that when others had humbled themselves 
and asked her pardon and favour, she forgave and pardoned, 
with the generosity of a lion which never does harm to those 
who are humble to him. 

I remember that when M. le Mardchal de Biron was 
lieutenant of the king in Guyenne, war having broken out 
around him (possibly with his knowledge and intent), he 
went one day before N^rac, where the King and Queen of 
Navarre were living at that time. The marshal prepared 
his arquebusiers to attack, beginning with a skirmish. The 
King of Navarre brought out his own in person, and, in 
a doublet like any captain of adventurers, he held his ground 
so well that, having the best marksmen, nothing could pre- 
vail against him. By way of bravado the marshal let fly 
some cannon against the town, so that the queen, who had 
gone upon the ramparts to see the pastime, came near hav- 
ing her share in it, for a ball flew right beside her ; wliich 
incensed her greatly, as much for the little respect Mardchal 
de Biron showed in braving her to her face, as because he 
had a special command from the king not to approach the 
war nearer than five hundred leagues to the Queen of Navarre, 
wherever she might be. The which command he did not 
observe on this occasion; for which she felt resentment 
and revenge against the marshal 


About a year and a half later she came to Court, where 
was the marshal, whom the king had recalled from Guyenne, 
fearing further disturbance ; for the King of Navarre had 
threatened to make trouble if he were not recalled. The 
Queen of Navarre, resentful to the said marshal, took no 
notice of him, but disdained him, speaking everywhere very 
ill of him and of the insult he had offered her. At last, 
the marshal, dreading the hatred of the daughter and sister 
of his masters, and knowing the nature of the princess, de- 
termined to seek her pardon by making excuses and humbling 
himself ; on which, generous as she was, she did not contra- 
dict him, but took him into favour and friendship and 
forgot the past. I knew a gentleman by acquaintance 
who came to Court about this time, and seeing the good 
cheer the queen bestowed upon the marshal was much as- 
tonished ; and so, as he sometimes had the honour of being 
listened to by the queen, he said to her that he was much 
amazed at the change and at her good welcome, in which 
he could not have believed, in view of the affront and injury. 
To which she answered that as the marshal had owned his 
fault and made his excuses and sought her pardon humbly, 
she had granted it for that reason, and did not desire further 
talk about his bravado at Ndrac. See how little vindictive 
this good princess is, — not imitating in this respect her 
grandmother. Queen Anne, towards the Mar^chal de Gid, as 
I have heretofore related. 

I might give many other examples of her kindness in her 
reconciliations and forgivenesses. 

Eebours, one of her maids of honour, who died at Chenon- 
ceaux, displeased her on one occasion very much. She did 
not treat her harshly, but when she was very ill she went to 
see her, and as she was about to die admonished her, and 
then said : " This poor girl has done great harm, but she has 


suffered much. May God pardon her as I have pardoned 
her." That was the vengeance and the harm she did her. 
Through her generosity she was slow to revenge, and in all 
things kind. 

Alfonso, the great King of Naples, who was subtle in 
loving the beauties of women, used to say that beauty is 
the sign manual of kindness and gentle goodness, as the 
beautiful flower is that of a good fruit. As to that it cannot 
be doubted that if our queen had been ugly and not com- 
posed of her great beauty, she would have been very bad 
in view of the great causes to be so that were given her. 
Thus said the late Queen Isabella of Castile, that wise and 
virtuous and very Catholic princess : " The fruit of clem- 
ency in a queen of great beauty and lofty heart, covetous of 
honour, is sweeter far than any vengeance whatever, even 
though it be undertaken for just claims and reason." 

This queen most sacredly observes that rule, striving to 
conform to the commandments of her God, whom she has 
always loved and feared and served devotedly. Now that 
the world has abandoned her and made war upon her, she 
takes her sole resource in God, whom she serves daily, as I 
am told by those who have seen her in her affliction ; for 
never does she miss a mass, taking the communion often and 
reading much in Holy Scripture, finding there her peace and 

She is most eager to obtain the fine new books that are 
composed, as much on sacred subjects as on human ; and 
when she undertakes to read a book, however large and long 
it be, she never stops or quits it until she sees the end, and 
often loses sleep and food in doing so. She herself composes, 
both in prose and verse. As to which no one can think 
otherwise than that her compositions are learned, beautiful, 
and pleasing, for she knows the art ; and could we bring 


them to tlie liglit, the world would draw great pleasure and 
great profit from them. Often she makes very beautiful 
verses and stanzas, that are sung to her by choir-boys whom 
she keeps, and which she sings herself (for her voice is 
beautiful and pleasant) to a lute, playing it charmingly. 
And thus she spends her time and wears away her luckless 
days, — offending none, and living that tranquil life she 
chooses as the best. 

She has done me the honour to write me often in her 
adversity, I being so presumptuous as to send for news of 
her. But is she not the daughter and sister of my kings, 
and must I not wish to know her health, and be glad and 
happy when I hear 't is good ? In her first letter she writes 
thus : — 

" By the remembrance you have of me, which is not less 
new than pleasant to me, I see that you have well preserved 
the affection you have always shown to our family and to 
the few now left of its sad wreck, so that I, in whatever 
state I be, shall ever be disposed to serve you ; feeling most 
happy that ill fortune has not effaced my name from the 
remembrance of my oldest friends, of whom you are. I 
know that you have chosen, like myself, a tranquil hfe ; and 
I count those happy who can maintain it, as God has given 
me the grace to do these five years, He having brought me 
to an ark of safety, where the storms of all these troubles 
cannot, I thank God, hurt me ; so that if there remain to 
me some means to serve my friends, and you particularly, 
you will find me wholly so disposed with right good will." 

Those are noble words ; and such was the state and resolu- 
tion of our beautiful princess. That is what it is to be born 
of a noble house, the greatest in the world, whence she drew 
her courage by inheritance from many brave and valiant 
kings, her father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and all their 


ancestors. And be it, as she says, that from so great a sliip- 
wreck she alone remains, not recognized and reverenced as 
she should be by her people, I beheve this people of France 
has suffered much misery for that reason, and will suffer 
more for this war of the League. But to-day this is not 
so ; ^ for by the valour and wisdom and fine government of 
our king never was France more flourishing, or more pacific, 
or better ruled ; which is the greatest miracle ever seen, 
having issued from so vast an abyss of evils and corruptions ; 
by which it seems that God has loved our queen, — He being 
good and merciful. 

Oh ! how ill-advised is he who trusts in the people of 
to-day ! Oh ! how differently did the Eomans recognize the 
posterity of Augustus Cfesar, who gave them wealth and 
grandeurs, from the people of France, who received so much 
from their later kings these hundred years, and even from 
Frangois I. and Henri II., so that without them France 
would have been tumbled topsy-turvy by her enemies watch- 
ing for that chance, and even by the Emperor Charles, that 
hungry and ambitious man. And thus it is they are so 
ungrateful, these people, toward Marguerite, sole and only 
remaining daughter and princess of France ! It is easy 
to foresee the wrath of God upon them, because nothing is 
to Him so odious as ingratitude, especially to kings and 
queenSj who here below fulfil the place and state of God. 
And thou, disloyal Fortune, how plainly dost thou show 
that there are none, however loved by heaven and blessed 
by nature, who can be sure of thee and of thy favours a 

1 It is noticeable in the course of this "Discourse" that Brantome 
■wrote it at one period, namely, about 1593 or 1594, and reviewed it at an- 
other, when Henri IV. was in full possession of the kingdom, but before 
the end of the century and before the divorce. (French editor.) 

The passage to which the foregoing is a note is evidently an addition to 
the text. — Tk. 


single day ! Art thou not dishonoured in thus so cruelly- 
affronting her who is all beauty, sweetness, virtue, magna- 
nimity and kindness ? 

All this I wrote during those wars we had among us for 
ten years. To make an end, did I not speak elsewhere of 
this great queen in other discourses I would lengthen this 
still more and all I could, for on so excellent a subject the 
longest words are never wearisome ; but for a time I now 
postpone them. 

Live, princess, live in spite of Fortune ! Never can you 
be other than immortal upon earth and in heaven, whither 
your noble virtues bear you in their arms. If public voice and 
fame had not made common praise of your great merits, or if 
I were of those of noble speech, I would say further here ; 
for never did there come into the world a figure so celestial. 

This queen who should by good right order us 
By laws and edicts and above us reign, 
Till we behold a reign of pleasure under her, 
As in her father's days, a Star of France, 
Fortune hath hindered. Ha ! must rightful claim 
Be wrongly lost because of Fortune's spite ? 

Never did Nature make so fine a thing 
As this great unique princess of our France ! 
Yet Fortune chooses to undo her wholly. 
Behold how evil balances with good I 

In the sixteenth century there were three Marguerites: 
one, sister of Frangois I. and Queen of Navarre, celebrated 
for her intellect, her Tales in the style of Boccaccio, and her 
verses, which are less interesting ; another. Marguerite, niece 
of the preceding, sister of Henri II., who became Duchesse 
de Savoie, very witty, also a writer of verses, and, in her 
youth, the patroness of the new poets at Court ; and lastly, 
the third Marguerite, niece and great-niece of the first two, 



daughter of Henri II. and Catherine de' Medici, first wife of 
Henri IV., and sister of the last Valois. It is of her that 
I speak to-day as having left behind her most agreeable 
historical pages and opened in our literature that graceful 
series of women's Memoirs which henceforth never ceases, 
but is continued in later years and lively vein by Mesdames 
de La Fayette, de Caylus and others. All of these Memoirs 
are books made without intending it, and the better for that. 
The following is the reason why Queen Marguerite took the 
idea of writing those in which she describes herself with so 
lightsome a pen. 

Brantome, who was making a gallery of illustrious French 
and foreign ladies, after bringing Marie Stuart into it, be- 
thought him of placing Marguerite beside her as another 
example of the injustice and cruelty of Fortune. Marguerite, 
at the period when Brantome indited his impulsive, enthu- 
siastic portrait of her, flinging upon his paper that eulogy 
which may truly be called delirious, was confined at the 
castle of Usson in Auvergne (1593), where she was not so 
much a prisoner as mistress. Prisoner at first, she soon 
seduced the man who held her so and took possession of 
the place, where she passed the period of the League troubles, 
and beyond it, in an impenetrable haven. The castle of Usson 
had been fortified by Louis XL, weU-versed in precautions, 
who wanted it as a sure place in which to lodge his prisoners. 
There Marguerite felt herself safe, not only from sudden 
attack, but also from the trial of a long siege and repeated 
assault. "Writing to her husband, Henri IV., in October, 
1594, she says to him, jokingly, that if he could see the 
fortress and the way in which she had protected herself 
within it he would see that God alone could reduce it, and 
she has good reason to believe that "this hermitage was 
built to be her ark of safety." 


The castle which she thus compares to ISToah's ark, and 
which some of her panegyrists, convinced that she who lived 
there was given to celestial contemplations, compare to 
Mount Tabor, was regarded as a Caprea and an abominable 
lair by enemies, who, from afar, plunged eyes of hatred into 
it. It is very certain, however, that Queen Marguerite lost 
nothing in that retreat of the delicate nicety of her mind, 
for it was there that she undertook to write her Memoirs 
in a few afternoons, in order to come to Brantome's assist- 
ance and correct him on certain points. We will follow 
her, using now and then some contemporary information, 
without relying too much upon either, but endeavouring to 
draw with simple truth a singular portrait in which there 
enters much that was enchanting and, towards the end, 

Marguerite, born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, May 14, 1553, 
was six years old when her father, Henri II., was killed at 
that fatal tournament which ruined the fortunes of the 
house of Valois. She tells us several anecdotes of herself 
and her childish repartees which prove a precocious mind. 
She takes great pains to call attention to a matter which 
in her is reaUy a sign, a distinctive note through all ex- 
cesses, namely : that as a child and when it was the fashion 
at Court to be "Huguenot," and when all those who had 
intelligence, or wished to pass for having it, had withdrawn 
from what they called " bigotry," she resisted that influence. 
In vain did her brother, d'Anjou, afterward Henri III., fling 
her Hours into the fire and give her the Psalms and the 
Huguenot prayers in place of it; she held firm and pre- 
served herself from the mania of Huguenotism, which at 
that date (1561) was a fancy at Court, a French and mun- 
dane fashion, attractive for a time to even those who were 
soon to turn against it and repress it. Marguerite, in the 


midst of a life that "was little exemplary, will always be 
found to have kept with sincerity this corner of good Cath- 
olicism which she derived from her race, and which made her 
in this respect and to this degree more of an Itahan than a 
Frenchwoman ; however, that which imports us to notice is 
that she had it. 

Still a child when the first religious wars began, she was 
sent to Amboise with her young brother, d'Alengon. There 
she found herself in company with several of BrantOme's 
female relations: Mme. de Dampierre, his aunt, Mme. de 
Eetz, his cousin; and she began with the elder of these 
ladies a true friendship ; with the younger, the cousin, the 
affection came later. Marguerite gives the reason for this 
very prettily : — 

" At that time the advanced age of your aunt and my 
childish youthfulness had more agreement; for it is the 
nature of old people to love children ; and those who are 
in the perfection of their age, like your cousin, despise and 
dislike their annoying simphcity." 

Childhood passed, and the first awakening to serious 
things was given to Marguerite about the time of the battle 
of Moncontour (1569). She was then sixteen. The Due 
d'Anjou, afterwards Henri III., aged eighteen, handsome, 
brave, and giving promise of a virtue and a prudence he 
never justified, took his sister aside one day in one of the 
alleys of the park at Plessis-lez-Tours to tell her of his de- 
sire, on starting for the army, to leave her as his confidant 
and support with their mother, Catherine de' Medici, during 
his absence at the wars. He made her a long speech, wliich 
she reports in full with some complacency : — 

" Sister, the nourishment we have taken together obliges 
us, not less than proximity, to love each other. . . . Until 
now we have naturally been guided to this without design 


and without the said union being of any utility beyond the 
pleasure we have had in conversing together. That was 
good for our childhood ; but now it is time to no longer 
live like children." 

He then points out to her the great and noble duties to 
which God calls him, in which the queen, their mother, 
brought him up, and which King Charles IX., their brother, 
lays upon him. He fears that this king, courageous as he is, 
may not always be satisfied with hunting, but will become 
ambitious to put himself at the head of the armies, the com- 
mand of which has been hitherto left to him. It is this that 
he wishes to prevent. 

" In this apprehension," he continues, " thinking of some 
means of remedy, I beheve that it is necessary to leave 
some very faithful person behind me who will maintain my 
side with the queen, my mother. I know no one as suitable 
as you, whom I regard as a second myself. You have aU. 
the qualities that can be desired, — intelligence, judgment, 
and fidehty." 

The Due d'Anjou then proposes to his sister to change 
her manner of hfe, to be assiduous towards the queen, their 
mother, at all hours, at her lever, in her cabinet during the 
day, at her coucher, and so act that she be treated henceforth, 
not as a child, but as a person who represents him during 
his absence. " This language," she remarks, " was very new 
to me, having lived until then without purpose, thinking of 
nothing but dancing and hunting; and without much in- 
terest even in dressing and in appearing beautiful, not hav- 
ing yet reached the age of such ambitions." The fear she 
always felt for the queen, her mother, and the respectful 
silence she maintained in her presence, held her back still 
further. " I came very near," she says, " replying to him as 
Moses did to God in the vision of the bush : ' Who am I ? 


Send, I pray thee, by him whom thou shouldest send.' " 
Nevertheless, she felt within her at her brother's words a 
new courage, and powers liitherto unknown to her, and she 
soon consented to all, entering zealously into her brother's 
design. From that moment she felt herself " transformed." 

This fraternal and politic imion thus created by the Due 
d'Anjou did not last. On his return from the victory of 
Moncontour she found him changed, distrustful, and ruled 
by a favourite, du Gua, who possessed him as so many others 
possessed him later. Henceforth his sister was out of favour 
with him, and it was with her younger brother, the Due 
d'Alengon, that Marguerite renewed and continued as long 
as she could a union of the same kind, which gave room for 
all the feelings and all the ambitious activities of youth. 

Did she at that time give some ground for the coolness 
of her brother d'Anjou by her liaison with the young Due 
de Guise ? An historian who knew Marguerite well and was 
not hostile to her, says : " She had long loved Henri, Due de 
Guise, who was killed at Blois, and had so fixed the affec- 
tions of her heart from her youth upon that prince of many 
attractions that she never loved the King of Navarre, after- 
wards King of France of happy memory, but hated him 
from the beginning, and was married to him in spite of her- 
self, and against canonical law." ^ However this may be, the 

1 The story goes that she refused to answer at the marriage ceremony ; 
on which her brother, Charles IX., put his hand behind her head and made 
her nod, which was taken for consent. In after years, the ground given for 
her divorce was that of being married against her will. The marriage took 
place on a stage erected before the west front of the cathedral of Notre- 
Dame ; the King of Navarre being a Protestant, the service could not be 
performed in the church. It was here, in view of the assembled multi- 
tude, that Marguerite's nod was forcibly given when she resolutely re- 
fused to answer. Following Brantome's delight in describing fine clothes, 
the wedding gown should be mentioned here. It was cloth of gold, the 
body so closely covered with pearls as to look like a cuirass ; over this 
was a blue velvet mantle embroidered with Jleurs-de-lys, nearly five yards 


Due d'Anjou seized the pretext of the Due de Guise to break 
with his sister, whose enemy he became insensibly, and he 
succeeded in alienating her from her mother. 

Marguerite, in this flower of her youth, was, according to 
all testimony, enchantingly beautiful. Her beauty was not 
so much in the special features of her face as in the grace 
and charm of her whole person, with its mingling of seduc- 
tion and majesty. Her hair was dark, which was not thought 
a beauty in those days ; blond hair reigned. " I have seen 
her sometimes wearing her natural hair without any peruke 
artifice," BrantSme tells us, " and though it was black (hav- 
ing inherited that colour from King Henri, her father), she 
knew so well how to twist and curl and arrange it, in imita- 
tion of her sister, the Queen of Spain, who never wore any 
hair but her own, that such arrangement and coiffure be- 
came her as well as, or better than, any other." Toward the 
end of her life Marguerite, becoming in her turn antiquated, 
with no brown hair to dress, made great display of blond 
perukes. " For them she kept great, fair-haired footmen, 
who were shaved from time to time;" but in her youth, 
when she dared to be dark -haired as nature made her, it 
was not unbecoming to her; for she had a most dazzling 
complexion and her " beautiful fair face resembled the sky 
in its purest and greatest serenity " with its " noble forehead 
of whitening ivory." Nor must we forget her art of adorn- 
ing and dressing herself to advantage, and the new inven- 
tions of that kind she gave to women, she being then the 
queen of the modes and fashion. As such she appeared on 
all solemn occasions, and notably on that day when, at the 

long, which was borne by one hundred and twenty of the handsomest 
women in Prance. Her dark hair was loose and flowing, and was studded 
with diamond stars. The Due de Guise, le Balafre, with his family con- 
nections and all his retainers, left Paris that morning, unable to bear the 
spectacle of the marriage. — Tr. 


Tuileries, tlie queen-mother feted the Polish seigneurs who 
came to offer the crown of Poland to the Due d'Anjou, and 
Eonsard, who was present, confesses that the beautiful god- 
dess Aurora was vanquished ; but more notably still on that 
flowery Easter at Blois, when we see her in procession, her 
dark hair starred with diamonds and precious stones, wear- 
ing a gown of crinkled cloth of gold from Constantinople, 
the weight of which would have crushed any other woman, 
but which her beautiful, rich, strong figure supported firmly, 
bearing the palm in her hand, her consecrated branch, " with 
regal majesty, and a grace half proud, half tender." Such 
was the Marguerite of the lovely years before the disasters 
and the flights, before the castle of Usson, where she aged 
and stiffened. 

This beauty, so real, so solid, which had so little need of 
borrowed charms, had, like all her being, its fantasticalities 
and its superstition. I have said already that she frequently 
disguised her rich, brown hair, preferring a blond wig, " more 
or less charmingly fashioned." Her beautiful face was pre- 
sented to view "all painted and stained." She took such 
care of her skin that she spoiled it with washes and recipes 
of many kinds, which gave her erysipelas and pimples. 
In fact, she was the model and eke the slave of the fashions 
of her time ; and as she survived those days she became in 
the end a species of preserved idol and curiosity, such as 
may be seen in a show-case. The great Sully, when he one 
day reappeared at the Court of Louis XIII. with his ruff and 
his costume of the time of Henri IV., gave that crowd of 
young courtiers something to laugh at ; and so, when Queen 
Marguerite, having returned from Usson to Paris, showed 
herself at the remodelled Court of Henri IV. she produced 
the same effect on that young century, which smiled at 
beholding this solemn survival of the Valois. 


Like all those Valois, a worthy granddaughter of Fran- 
9ois I., she was learned. To the Poles who harangued in 
Latin she showed that she understood them by replying on 
the spot, eloquently and pertinently, without the help of 
an interpreter. She loved poetry and wrote it, and had it 
written for her by salaried poets whom she treated as friends. 
When she had once begun to read a book she could not 
leave it, or pause till she came to the end, " and very often 
she would lose both her eating and drinking." But let us 
not forestall the time. She herself tells us that this taste 
for study and reading came to her for the first time during 
a previous imprisonment in which Henri III. held her for 
several months in 1575, and we are still concerned with her 
cloudless years. 

She was married, in spite of her objections as a good 
Catholic, to Henri, King of Navarre, six days before the 
Saint-Bartholomew (August, 1572). She relates with much 
naivete and in a simple tone the scenes of that night of horror, 
of which she was ignorant until the last moment. We see in 
her narrative that wounded and bleeding gentleman pursued 
through the corridors of the Louvre, and taking refuge in 
Marguerite's chamber, and flinging himself with the cry 
" Navarre ! Navarre ! " upon her ; shielding his own body 
from the murderers with that of his queen, she not know- 
ing whether she had to do with a madman or an assailant. 
When she did know what the danger was she saved the 
poor man, keeping him in bed and dressing his wounds in 
her cabinet until he was cured. Queen Marguerite, so little 
scrupulous in morality, is better than her brothers ; of the 
vanishing Valois she has all the good quahties and many of 
their defects, but not their cruelty. 

After this half-missed blow of the Saint-Bartholomew, 
which did not touch the princes of the blood, an attempt 


was made to uumarry her from the King of Navarre. On 
a feast day when she was about to take the sacrament, her 
mother asked her to tell her under oath, truly, whether the 
kmg, her husband, had behaved to her as yet like a husband, 
a man, and whether there was not still time to break the 
union. To this Marguerite played the ingenue, so she asserts, 
apparently not comprehending. " I begged her," she says, 
" to believe that I knew nothing of what she was speaking. 
I could then say with truth as the Eoman lady said, when 
her husband was angry because she had not warned liim his 
breath was bad, ' that she had supposed all men were alike, 
never having been near to any one but him.' " 

Here Marguerite wishes to have it understood that she 
had never, so far, made comparison of any man with another 
man ; she plays the innocent, and by her quotation from the 
Eoman lady she also plays the learned ; which is quite in 
the line of her intelligence. 

It would be a great error of literary judgment to consider 
these graceful Memoirs as a work of nature and simphcity ; 
it is rather one of discrimination and subtlety. Wit sparkles 
throughout ; but study and learning are perceptible. In the 
third line we come upon a Greek word : " I would praise 
your work more," she writes to BrantSme, " if you had praised 
me less ; not wishing that the praise I give should be attrib- 
uted to jphilautia rather than to reason ; " by philcmtia she 
means self-love. Marguerite (she will remind us of it if we 
forget it) is by education and taste of the school of Eonsard, 
and a little of that of Du Bartas. During her imprisonment 
in 1575, giving herself up, as she tells us, to reading and 
devotion, she shows us the study which led her back to 
religion ; she talks to us of the " universal page of Nature ; " 
the " ladder of knowledge ; " the " chain of Homer ; " and of 
" that agreeable Encyclopaedia which, starting from God, 


returns to God, the principle and the end of all things." All 
that is learned, and even transcendental. 

She was called in her family Venus-Urania. She loved 
fine discourses on elevated topics of philosophy or sentiment. 
In her last years, during her dinners and suppers, she usually 
had four learned men beside her, to whom she propounded 
at the beginning of the meal some topic more or less sublime 
or subtile, and when each had spoken for or against it and 
given his reasons, she would intervene and renew the con- 
test, provoking and attracting to herself at will their contra- 
diction. Here Marguerite was essentially of her period, and 
she bears the seal of it on her style. The language of her 
Memoirs is not an exception to be counted against the man- 
nerism and taste of her time ; it is only a more happy em- 
ployment of it. She knows mythology and history; she 
cites readily Burrhus, Pyrrhus, Timon, the centaur Chiron, 
and the rest. Her language is by choice metaphorical and 
lively with poesy. When Catherine de' Medici, going to see 
her son, the Due d'Anjou, travels from Paris to Tours in 
three days and a half (very rapid in those times, and the 
journey put that poor Cardinal de Bourbon, little accustomed 
to such discomfort, entirely out of breath), it is because the 
queen-mother is " borne," says Marguerite, " on the wings of 
desire and maternal affection." 

Marguerite likes and affects all comparisons borrowed 
from fabulous natural history, and she varies them with 
reminiscences of ancient history. "When, in 1582, they recall 
her to the Court of Prance, taking her from her husband 
and from N^rac, where she had then been three or four 
years, she perceives a project of her enemies to blow up a 
quarrel between herself and her husband during this ab- 
sence. " They hoped," she says, " that separation would be 
like the breaking of the Macedonian battalion." When the 


famous Phalanx was once broken entrance was easy. This 
style, so ornate and figurative, usually dehcate and graceful, 
has also its outspokenness and firmness of tone. Speaking 
of the expedition projected by her brother, the Due d' Alen- 
Qon, in Flanders, she explains it in terms of energetic beauty, 
representing to the king that "it is for the honour and 
aggrandizement of France ; it will prove an invention to 
prevent civil war, all restless spirits desirous of novelty hav- 
ing means to pass into Flanders and blow off their smoke 
and surfeit themselves with war. This enterprise will also 
serve, like Piedmont, as a school for the nobility in the 
practice of arms ; we shall there revive the Montlucs and 
Brissacs, the Termes and the Bellegardes, and all those great 
marshals who, trained to war in Piedmont, have since then 
so gloriously and successfully served their king and their 

One of the most agreeable parts of these Memoirs is the 
journey in Flanders, Hainault, and the Li^ge country which 
Marguerite made in 1577 ; a journey undertaken ostensibly 
to drink the waters of Spa, but in reahty to gain partisans 
for her brother d'Alengon, in his project of wrenching the 
Low Countries from Spain. The details of her coquettish, 
and ceremonial magnificence, so dear to ladies, are not 
omitted : — 

" I went," says Marguerite, " in a litter with columns cov- 
ered with rose-coloured Spanish velvet, embroidered in gold 
and shaded silks with a device ; this litter was enclosed in 
glass, and each glass also bore a device, there being, whether 
on the velvet or on the glass, forty different devices about 
the sun and its effects, with the words in Spanish and 

Those forty devices and their explanation were an ever 
fresh subject of gallant conversation in the towns through 


which she passed. Amid it all, Marguerite, then in the full 
bloom of her twenty-fourth year, went her way, winniag 
all hearts, seducing the governors of citadels, and persuad- 
ing them to useful treachery. On this journey she meets 
with charming Flemish scenes which she pictures dehght- 
fuUy. Take, for example, the gala festival at Mons, where 
the beautiful Comtesse de Lalain (Marguerite, Princesse de 
Ligne), whose beauty and rich costume are described most 
particularly, has her child brought to her in swaddling- 
clothes and suckles it before the company ; " which," re- 
marks Marguerite, " would have been an incivility in any 
one else ; but she did it with such grace and simplicity, like 
all the rest of her actions, that she received as much praise 
as the company did pleasure." 

Leaving Namur, we have at Lifege a touching and pathetic 
story of a poor young girl, Mile, de Tournon, who dies of 
grief for being slighted and betrayed by her lover, to whom 
she was going in the utmost confidence ; and who himself, 
coming to a better mind too late, rushes to console her, and 
finds her coffin on arrival. We have here from Queen Mar- 
guerite's pen the finished sketch of a tale in the style of 
Mme. de La Fayette, just as above we had the drawing of 
a perfect little Flemish picture. On her return from this 
journey, the scenes Marguerite passes through at Dinant 
prove her coolness and presence of mind, and present us 
with another Flemish picture, but not so graceful as that of 
Mons and the beautiful nursing countess; this time it is 
a scene of public drunkenness, grotesque burgher rioting, 
and burgomasters in their cups. A painter need only 
transfer and copy the very lines which Marguerite has so 
happily traced, to make a faithful picture. 

After these journeys, being now reunited at her house of 
La Ffere in Picardy with her dear brother d'Alengon, she 


realizes there for nearly two months, " which were to us," 
she says, " like two short days," one of those terrestrial 
paradises which were at all times the desire of her imagi- 
nation and of her heart. She loved beyond all things those 
spheres of enchantment, those Fortunate Isles, alike of 
Urania and of Calypso, and she was ever seeking to repro- 
duce them in all places and under all forms, whether at her 
Court at Nt^rac or amid the rocks of Usson, or, at the last, 
in that beautiful garden on the banks of the Seine (which 
to-day is the Rue des Petits-Augustins) where she strove to 
cheat old age. 

" my queen ! how good it is to be mth you ! " exclaims 
continually her brother d'Alengon, enchanted with the thou- 
sand graceful imaginations with which she varied and em- 
bellished this sojourn at La Yhre. And she adds naively, 
mingling her Christian erudition with sentiment : " He 
would gladly have said with Saint Peter : ' Let us make our 
tabernacle here,' if the regal courage he possessed and the 
generosity of his soul had not called him to greater things." 
As for her, we can conceive that she would gladly have re- 
mained there, prolonging without weariness the enchant- 
ment ; she would willingly have arranged her life like that 
beautiful garden at N^rac of which she constantly speaks, 
" which has such charming alleys of laurel and cypress," or 
like the park she had made there, " with paths three thou- 
sand paces long beside the river;" the chapel bemg close 
at hand for morning mass, and the violins at her orders for 
the evening ball. 

"Whatever ability and shrewdness Queen Marguerite may 
have shown in various political circumstances in the course 
of her life, we nevertheless perceive plainly that she was not 
a political woman ; she was too essentially of her sex for 
that. There are very few women who, like the Princess 


Palatine [Anne de Gonzaga] or the illustrious Catherine of 
Eussia, know how to be libertine yet sure of themselves ; 
able to estabhsh an impenetrable partition between the alcove 
and the cabinet of public affairs. Nearly all the women who 
have mingled in the intrigues of politics have introduced 
and confused with them their intrigues of heart or senses. 
Consequently, whatever intelhgence they may have, they 
elude or escape at a certain moment, and unless there be 
a man who holds the tiller and gives them with decision 
their course, we find them unfaithful, treacherous, not to 
be relied on, and capable at any moment of colloguing 
through a secret window with an emissary of the opposite 
side. Marguerite, with infinite intelligence and grace, was 
one of those women. Distinguished but not superior, and 
wholly influenced by passions, she had wiles and artifices 
of a passing kind, but no views, and still less stability. 

One of the remarkable features of her Memoirs is that 
she does not tell all, nor even the half of all, and in the very 
midst of the odious and extravagant accusations made against 
her she sits, pen in hand, a delicate and most discreet woman. 
Nothing can be less like confession than her Memoirs. " We 
find there," says Bayle, " many sins of omission ; but could 
we expect that Queen Marguerite would acknowledge the 
things that would blast her ? Such avowals are reserved for 
the tribunal of confession ; they are not meant for history." 
At the most, when enlightened by history and by the pam- 
phlets of the period, we can merely guess at certain feel- 
ings of which she presents to us only the superficial and 
specious side. When she speaks of Bussy d'Amboise she 
scarcely restrains her admiration for that gallant cavalier, 
and we fancy we can see in the abundance of that praise 
that her heart overflows. 

Even the letters that we have from her say little more. 


Among them are love letters addressed to him whom at one 
time she loved the most, Harlay de Chanvalon. Here we 
find no longer the charming, moderately ornate, and naturally 
poHshed style of the Memoirs; this is all of the highest 
metaphysics and purest fustian, nearly unintelligible and 
most ridiculous. " Adieu, my beauteous sun ! adieu, my 
noble angel ! fine miracle of nature ! " those are the most 
commonplace and earthly of her expressions ; the rest mount 
ever higher till lost in the Empyrean. It would really seem, 
from reading these letters, as if Marguerite had never loved 
with heart-love, only with the head and the imagination ; and 
that, feeling truly no love but the physical, she felt herself 
bound to refine it in expression and to petrarchize in words, 
she, who was so practical in behaviour. She borrows from 
the false poetry of her day its tinsel in order to persuade 
herself that the fancy of the moment is an eternal worship. 
A practical observation is quoted of her which tells us better 
than her own letters the secret of her life. "Would you 
cease to love ? " she said, " possess the thing beloved." It is 
to escape this quick disenchantment, this sad and rapid 
awakening, that she is so prodigal of her figurative, myth- 
ological, impossible expressions ; she is trying to make her- 
self a veil ; the heart counts for nothing. She seems to be 
saying to love : " Thy base is so trivial, so passing a thing, 
let us try to support it by words, and so prolong its image 
and its play." 

Her life well deduced and well related would make the 
subject of a teeming and interesting volume. Having ob- 
tained, after the persecutions and troubles, permission to 
rejoin her husband in Gascogne (1578), she remained there 
three and a half years, enjoying her liberty and leaving him 
his. She counts these days at N^rac, mingled, in spite of 
the re-beginning wars, with balls, excursions, and " aU sorts 


of virtuous pleasures," as an epoch of happiness. Henri's 
weaknesses and her own harmonized remarkably, and never 
clashed. But Henri soon crossed the limit of license, and 
she, on her side, equally. It is not for us to hold the balance 
or enter here into details which would soon become indelicate 
and shameful. Marguerite, who had gone to spend some 
time in Paris at her brother's Court (1582, 1583) did not 
return to her husband until after an odious scandal had made 
pubhc her frailty. 

From that time forth her life did not retain its early, 
smiling joyfulness. She was now past thirty ; civil wars 
were lighted, never to be extinguished until after the des- 
perate struggles and total defeat of the League. Marguerite, 
becoming a queen-adventuress, changed her abode from time 
to time, until she found herself in the castle of Usson, that 
asylum of which I have spoken, where she passed no less 
than eighteen years (1587-1605). What happened there ? 
Doubtless many common frailties, but less odious than are 
told by bitter and dishonourable chroniclers, the only 
authorities for the tales they put forth. 

During this time Queen Marguerite did not entirely cease 
to correspond with her husband, now become King of France. 
If the conduct of the royal pair leaves much to be desired 
with regard to each other, and also with regard to the public, 
let us at least recognize that their correspondence is that of 
honourable persons, persons of good company, whose hearts 
are much better than their morals. When reasons of State 
determined Henri to unmarry himself, to break a union 
which was not only sterile but scandalous, Marguerite 
agreed without resistance, — seeming, however, to be fully 
conscious of what she was losing. To accomplish the 
formalities of divorce, the pope delegated certain bishops 
and cardinals to interrogate separately the husband and 



wife. Marguerite expresses the desire, inasmuch as she 
must be questioned, that this may be done " by more private 
and familiar " persons, her courage not being able to endure 
publicly so great a diminution ; " fearing that my tears," 
she writes, " may make these cardinals think I am acting 
from force or constraint, which would injure the effect the 
kuig desires " (Oct. 21, 1599). King Henri w^as touched by 
the feelings she showed throughout this long negotiation. 
"I am very satisfied," he writes, "at the ingenuousness 
and candour of your procedure ; and I hope that God will 
bless the remainder of our days with fraternal affection, ac- 
companied by the pubHc good, which will render them very 
happy." He calls her henceforth his sister ; and she herself 
says to him : " You are father, brother, and king to me." 
If their marriage was one of the least noble and the most 
bourgeois, their divorce, at any rate, was royal. 

[Here Sainte-Beuve does not keep strictly to history. 
Henri lY. had long urged Marguerite to consent to a 
divorce ; but she, aware that he was taking steps to divorce 
Gabrielle d'Estr^es from her husband, in order to marry her, 
and feeling the indignity of such a marriage, firmly refused, 
and continued to do so until the sudden death of Gabrielle 
in Paris during Holy Week of 1599 ; on which Marguerite 
consented at once to the divorce, and Henri married Marie 
de' Medici, December 17 of the same year. 

Five years later (1605) Marguerite returned from the 
castle of Usson and held her Court in Paris at the hotel 
de Sens (which still exists) and at her various chateaux in 
Languedoc ; no longer, alas ! the Peine Margot of our ill- 
regulated affections, and somewhat open to the malicious 
comments of Tallemant des Eeaux, but appearing at times 
with all her wonted spirit and regal dignity. These were 





the days when she kept a brigade of golden-haired footmen 
who were shorn for the wigs ; and the story goes that her 
gowns were made with many pockets, in each of which she 
kept the mummied heart of a lover. But such tales must 
be taken for what they are worth, and a better chronicler 
than the satirists of the Valois has given us ocular proof of 
her last majestic presence at a public ceremony five years 
before her death. 

In 1610, Henri lY. preparing to leave France for the war 
in Germany, and wishing to appoint Queen Marie de' Medici 
regent, it became necessary to have the latter crowned. This 
was done in the cathedral of Saint-Denis, May 13, 1610. The 
Queen of Navarre, as Marguerite, daughter of France and 
first princess of the blood, was required to be present at 
the ceremony. Eubens' splendid picture (reproduced in this 
volume) gives the scene. Marie de' Medici, kneeling before 
the altar, is being crowned by Cardinal de Joyeuse, assisted 
by his clergy and two other cardinals ; beside the queen are 
the dauphin (Louis XIII.) and his sister, Elisabeth, after- 
wards Queen of Spain. The Princesse de Conti and the 
Duchesse de Montpensier carry the queen's train ; the Due 
de Ventadour, his back to the spectator, bears the sceptre, 
and the Chevalier de Vend6me the sword of Justice. To 
the left, leading the cortege of princesses and nobles, is the 
Queen of Navarre, easily recognized by her small closed 
crown, all the other princesses wearing coronets. In the 
background, to right, in a gallery, sits Henri IV. viewing 
the ceremony. As he did so he turned with a shudder 
to the man behind him and said : " I am thinking how 
this scene would appear if this were the Last Day and 
the Judge were to summon us all before Him." Henri IV. 
was killed by Eavaillac the following morning, while his 
coach stood blocked in the streets by the crowds who 


were collecting for the public entry of Marie de' Medici 
into Paris. 

The young Elisabeth, eldest daughter of the king and 
Marie de' Medici, who appears at the coronation of her 
mother, was afterwards wife of Philip IV. of Spain, and 
mother of the Infanta Maria Theresa, wife of Louis XIV., 
also of Carlos II., at whose death Louis XIV. obtained the 
crown of Spain for his grandson, the Due d'Anjou, Philip V. 
This Elisabeth of France, Queen of Spain, is the original of 
Eubens' magnificent portrait reproduced in this chapter. — Te.] 

Queen Marguerite returned from Usson to Paris in 1605 ; 
and here we find her in her last estate, turned slightly to 
ridicule by Tallemant, the echo of the new century. Eigh- 
teen years of confinement and solitude had given her singu- 
larities, and even manias ; they now burst forth in open day. 
She still had adventures both gallant and starthng: an 
equerry whom she loved was killed at her carriage door by 
a jealous servant, and the poet Maynard, a young disciple 
of Malherbe, one of Marguerite's heaux-esprits, wrote stanzas 
and plaints about it. During the same period Marguerite 
had many sincere thoughts that were more than fits of 
devotion. With Maynard for secretary, she had also Vincent 
de Paul, young in those days, for her chaplain. She founded 
and endowed convents, all the while paying learned men to 
instruct her in philosophy, and musicians to amuse her dur- 
ing divine service and at hours more profane. She gave many 
alms and gratuities and did not pay her debts. It was not 
precisely good sense that presided over her life. But amidst 
it aU she was loved. " On the 27th day of the month of 
March " (1615), says a contemporary, " died in Paris Queen 
Marguerite, sole remains of the race of Valois, — a princess 
full of kindness and of good intentions for the good and the 


peace of the State, who did no harm to any hut herself. She 
was greatly regretted. She died at the age of sixty-two." 

Certain persons have attempted to compare her for beauty, 
for misfortunes, for intellect, with Marie Stuart. Certainly, 
at a point of departure there was much in common between 
the two queens, the two sisters-in-law, but the comparison 
cannot be maintained historically. Marie Stuart, who had 
in herself the wit, grace, and manners of the Valois, who 
was scarcely more moral as a woman than Marguerite, and 
was implicated in acts that were far more monstrous, had, 
or seemed to have, a certain elevation of heart, which she 
acquired, or developed, in her long captivity crowned by 
her sorrowful death. Of the two destinies, the one repre- 
sents definitely a great cause, and ends in a pathetic legend 
of victim and martyr ; the reputation of the other is spent 
and scattered in tales and anecdotes half smutty, half de- 
vout, into which there enters a grain of satire and of gayety. 
Prom the end of one comes many a tearful tragedy ; from 
that of the other nought can be made but a falliau. 

That which ought to be remembered to Marguerite's hon- 
our is her intelligence, her talent for saying the right word ; 
in short, that which is said of her in the Memoirs of Cardinal 
de Eichelieu : " She was the refuge of men of letters ; she 
loved to hear them talk ; her table was always surrounded 
by them, and she learned so much from their conversation 
that she talked better than any other woman of her time, and 
wrote more elegantly than the ordinary condition of her sex 
would warrant." It is in that way, by certain exquisite 
pages which form a date in our language, that she enters, in 
her turn, into literary history, the noble refuge of so many 
wrecks, and that a last and a lasting ray shines from her 

C.-A. Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du Lundi (1852). 



1. 3Iadame Yoland de France. 

'T IS a thing that I have heard great personages, both men 
and ladies of the Court, remark, that usually the daughters 
of the liouse of Trance have been good, or wittj, or gracious, 
or generous, and in aU things accomplished ; and to confirm 
this opinion they do not go back to the olden time, but say 
it of those of whom they have knowledge themselves, or 
have heard their fathers and grandfathers who have been 
at the Court talk of. 

First, I shall name here Madame Yoland of France, 
daughter of Charles VIL, and wife of the Due de Savoie 
and Prince of Piedmont. 

She was very clever ; true sister to her brother, Louis XT. 
She leaned a little to the party of Due Charles de Bour- 
gogne, her brother-in-law, he having married her elder sister 
Catherine, who scarcely lived after wedding her husband, so 
that her virtues do not appear. Yoland, seeing that Due 
Charles was her neighbour and might be feared, did what 
she could to maintain his friendship, and he served her 
much in the business of her State. But he dying. King 
Louis XL came down upon her grandeur and her means, and 
those of Savoie. But Madame la duchesse, clever lady ! found 
means of winning over her brother the king, and went to see 

1 Meaning the daughters of the kings of France only. — Tk. 


him at Plessis-lez-Tours to settle their affairs. She having 
arrived, the king went down to meet her in the courtyard 
and welcome her ; and having bowed and kissed her and 
put his arm around her neck, half laughing, half pinching 
her, he said : " Madame la Bourgognian, you are very wel- 
come." She, making him a great curtsey, replied : " Mon- 
sieur, I am not Bourgognian ; you will pardon me if you 
please. I am a very good Frenchwoman and your humble 
servant." On which the king took her by the arm and led 
her to her chamber with very good welcome ; but Madame 
Yoland, who was shrewd and knew the king's nature, was 
determined not to remain long with him, but to settle her 
affairs as fast as she could and get away. 

The king, on the other hand, who knew the lady, did not 
press her to stay very long ; so that if one was displeased 
with the other, the other was displeased with the first; 
wherefore without staying more than eight days she returned, 
very little content with the king, her brother. 

Phihppe de Commines has told about this meeting more 
at length; but the old people of those days said that they 
thought this princess a very able female, who owed nothing 
to the king, her brother, who twitted her often about being 
a Bourgognian ; but she tacked about as gently and modestly 
as she could, for fear of affronting him, knowing full well, 
and better than even her brother, how to dissimulate, being 
a hundred times slyer than he in face, and speech, and ways, 
though always very good and very wise. 

2. Madame Jeanne de France. 

Jeanne de France, daughter of the aforesaid king, Louis XI., 
was very witty, but so good that after her death she was 
counted a saint, and even as doing miracles, because of the 
sanctity of the life she led after her husband, Louis XXL, 


repudiated her [to marry Anne de Bretagne] ; after which 
she retired to Bourges, which was given her as a dowry for 
the term of her natural life ; where all her time was spent 
in prayer and orisons and in serving God and his poor, with- 
out giving any sign of the wrong that was done her Ly such 
repudiation. But the king protested that he had been forced 
to marry her fearing the wrath of her father, Louis XL, 
a master-man, and declared positively that he had never 
known her as his wife. Thus the matter was allowed to 
pass ; in which this princess showed her wisdom, not mak- 
ing the reply of Eicharde of Scotland, wife of Charles le Gros, 
King of France, when her husband repudiated her, affirming 
that he had never lived with her as his wife. " That is 
well," she said, " since by the oath of my husband I am maid 
and virgin." By those words she scoffed at her husband's 
oath and her o'v\ti virginity. 

But the king was seeking to recover his first loves, namely : 
Queen Anne and her noble duchy, which gave great tempta- 
tions to his soul ; and that was why he repudiated his wife. 
His oath was believed and accepted by the pope, who sent 
him the dispensation, which was received by the Sorbonne 
and the parliament of Paris. In all of which this priacess 
was wise and virtuous, and made no scandal, nor uproar, 
nor appeal to justice, because a king can do much and just 
what he will ; but feeliug herself strong to contain herself 
in continence and chastity, she retired towards God and 
espoused herself to Him so truly that never another husband 
nor a better could she have. 

3. Madame Anne de France. 

After her comes her sister, Anne de France, a shrewd 
woman and a cunning if ever there was one, and the true 
image of King Louis, her father. The choice made of her 


to be guardian and administrator of her brother, King 
Charles [VIII.], proves this, for she governed him so wisely 
and virtuously that he came to be one of the greatest of 
the kings of France, who was proclaimed, by reason of his 
valour. Emperor of the East. As to his kingdom she ad- 
ministered that in like manner. True it is that because of 
her ambition she was rather mischief-making, on account of 
the hatred she bore to M. d'Orldans, afterwards King Louis 
XII. I have heard say, however, that in the beginning she 
loved him with love ; so that if M. d'Orldans had been will- 
ing to hear to her, he might have had better luck, as I hold 
on good authority. But he could not constrain himself, all 
the more because he saw her so ambitious, and he wished 
his wife to depend upon him as first and nearest prince to 
the crown, and not upon herself ; while she desired the 
contrary, for she wanted to hold the highest place and to 
govern in all things. 

She was very vindictive in temper like her father, and 
always a sly dissembler, corrupt, full of deceit, and a great 
hypocrite, who, for the sake of her ambition, could mask 
and disguise herself in any way. So that the kingdom, 
beginning to be angry at her humours, although she was 
wise and virtuous, bore with them so impatiently that when 
the king went to Naples she no longer had the title of regent, 
but her husband, M. de Bourbon, received it. It is true, 
however, that she made him do what she had in her head, 
for she ruled him and knew how to guide him, all the 
better because he was rather foolish, — indeed, very much 
so ; but the Council opposed and controlled her. She en- 
deavoured to use her prerogative and authority over Queen 
Anne, but there she found the boot on the other foot, as 
they say, for Queen Anne was a shrewd Bretonne, as I have 
told already, who was very superb and haughty towards her 


equals ; so that Madame Anne was forced to lower lier 
sails and leave the queen, her sister-in-law, to keep her rank 
and maintain her grandeur and majesty, as was reasonable ; 
which made Madame Anne very angry; for she, being 
virtually regent, held to her grandeur terribly. 

I have read many letters from her to our family in the 
days of her greatness ; but never did I see any of our kings 
(and I have seen many) talk and write so bravely and im- 
periously as she did, as much to the great as to the smaU. 
Of a surety, she was a maitresse femme, though quarrelsome, 
and if M. d'Orl^ans had not been captured and his luck had 
not served him ill, she would have thrown France into 
turmoil; and all for her ambition, which so long as she 
lived she never could banish from her soul, — not even when 
retired to her estates, where, nevertheless, she pretended to be 
pleased and where she held her Court, which was always, as I 
have heard my grandmother say, very fine and grand, she 
being accompanied by great numbers of ladies and maids of 
honour, whom she trained very wisely and virtuously. In 
fact she gave such fine educations (as I know from my grand- 
mother) that there were no ladies or daughters of great 
houses in her time who did not receive lessons from her, the 
house of Bourbon being one of the greatest and most 
splendid in Christendom. And indeed it was she who made 
it so brilliant, for though she was opulent in estates and 
riches of her own, she played her hand so well in the 
regency that she gained a great deal more; all of which 
served to make the house of Bourbon more dazzhng. Be- 
sides being splendid and magnificent by nature and unwilling 
to diminish by ever so little her early grandeur, she also did 
many great kindnesses to those whom she liked and took 
in hand. To end all, this Anne de France was very clever 
and sufficiently good. I have now said enough about her. 


4, Madame Claude de France. 

I must now speak of Madame Claude de France, who was 
very good, very charitable, and very gentle to aU, never do- 
ing any unkindness or harm to any one either at her Court 
or in the kingdom. She was much beloved by King Louis 
[XII.] and Queen Anne, her father and mother, being their 
good and best-loved daughter, as they showed her plainly; 
for after the king was peaceably Duke of Milan they de- 
clared and proclaimed her, in the parliament of Paris with 
open doors, duchess of the two finest duchies in Christen- 
dom, to wit, Milan and Bretagne, the one coming from her 
father, the other from her mother. What an heiress, if you 
please! These two duchies joined together made a noble 

Queen Anne, her mother, desired to marry her to Charles 
of Austria, afterwards emperor, and had she lived she would 
have done so, for in that she influenced the king, her hus- 
band, wishing always to have the sole charge and care of the 
marriage of her daughters. Never did she call them other- 
wise than by their names : " My daughter Claude," and " My 
daughter Een^e." In these our days, estates and seigneuries 
must be given to daughters of princesses, and even of ladies, 
by which to call them ! If Queen Anne had hved, never 
would Madame Claude have been married to King Frangois 
[I.] for she foresaw the evil treatment she was certain to 
receive; the king, her husband, giving her a disease that 
shortened her days. Also, Madame la regente treated her 
harshly. But she strengthened her soul as much as she 
could, by her sound mind and gentle patience and great 
wisdom, to endure these troubles, and in spite of all, she 
bore the king, her husband, a fine and generous progeny, 
namely : three sons, Francois, Henri, and Charles ; and four 
daughters, Louise, Charlotte, Magdelaine, and Marguerite. 


She was much beloved by her husband, King rran9ois [I.], 
and well treated by him and by all France, and much re- 
gretted when she died for her admirable virtues and good- 
ness. I have read in the " Chronique d'Anjou " that after 
her death her body worked miracles ; for a great lady of her 
family being tortured one day with a hot fever, and having 
made her a vow, recovered her health suddenly. 

5. Madame Rence de France. 

Madame Eende, her sister, was also a very good and able 
princess ; for she had as sound and subtle mind as could be. 
She had studied much, and I have heard her discoursing 
learnedly and gravely of the sciences, even astrology, and 
knowledge of the stars, about which I heard her talking 
one day with the queen-mother, who said, after hearing her, 
that the greatest philosopher in the world could not have 
spoken better. 

She was promised in marriage to the Emperor Charles, by 
King Frangois ; but the war interrupting that marriage, she 
was given to the Due de Ferrara, who loved her much and 
treated her honourably as the daughter of a king. True it 
is they were for a time rather ill together because of the 
Lutheran religion he suspected her of liking. Possibly ; for 
resenting the ill-turns the popes had done to her father in 
every way, she denied their power and refused obedience, 
not being able to do worse, she being a woman. I hold on 
good authority that she said this often. Her husband, 
nevertheless, having regard to her illustrious blood, respected 
her always and honoured her much. Like her sister, Queen 
Claude, she was fortunate in her issue, for she bore to her 
husband the finest that was, I believe, in Italy, although she 
herself was much weakened in body. 

She had the Due de Ferrara, who is to-day one of the 


handsomest princes in Italy and very wise and generous; 
the late Cardinal d'Est, the kindest, most magnificent and 
liberal man in the world (of whom I hope to speak here- 
after) ; and three daughters, the most beautiful women ever 
born in Italy : Madame Anne d'Est, afterwards Mme. de 
Guise ; Madame Lucrezia, Duchesse d'Urbino ; and Madame 
Leonora, who died unmarried. The first two bore the names 
of their grandmothers : one from Anne de Bretagne on her 
mother's side ; the other, on the father's side, from Lucrezia 
Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander [VI.], both very different 
in manners as in character, although the said lady Lucrezia 
Borgia was a charming princess of Spanish extraction, 
gifted with beauty and virtue (see Guicciardini). Madame 
Leonora was named after Queen Leonora. These daughters 
were very handsome, but their mother embellished them 
still more by the noble education that she gave them, mak- 
ing them study sciences and good letters, the which they 
learned and retained perfectly, putting to shame the greatest 
scholars. So that if they had beautiful bodies they had 
souls that were beautiful also. I shall speak of them 

Now, if Madame Eende was clever, intelligent, wise, and 
virtuous, she was also so kind and understood the subjects 
of her husband so well that I never knew any one in 
Ferrara who was not content or failed to say all the good 
in the world of her. They felt above all her charity, which 
she had in great abundance and principally for Frenchmen ; 
for she had this good thing about her, that she never for- 
got her nation ; and though she was thrust far away from 
it, she always loved it deeply. No Frenchman passing 
through Ferrara, being in necessity and addressing her, ever 
left without an ample donation and good money to return 
to his country and family j and if he were ill, and could 


not travel, she had him treated and cured carefully and 
then gave him money to return to France. 

I have heard persons who know it well, and an infinite 
number of soldiers who had good experience of it say that 
after the journey of M. de Guise into Italy, she saved the 
hves of at least ten thousand poor Frenchmen, who would 
have died of starvation and want without her ; and among 
the number were many nobles of good family. I have heard 
some of them say that never could they have reached France 
without her, so great was her charity and Hberahty to those 
of her nation. And I have also heard her maitre d'hotel as- 
sert that their food had cost her more than ten thousand 
crowns ; and when the stewards of her household remon- 
strated and showed her this excessive expense, she only 
said : " How can I help it ? These are poor Frenchmen of 
my nation, who, if God had put a beard on my chin and 
made me a man, would now be my subjects ; and truly they 
would be so now if that wicked Salic law did not hold me 
in check." 

She is all the more to be praised because, without her, the 
old proverb would be still more true, namely, that " Italy is 
the grave of Frenchmen." 

But if her charity was shown at that time in this direction, 
I can assure you that in other places she did not fail to 
practise it. I have heard several of her household say that 
on her return to France, having retired to her town and 
house of Montargis about the time the civil wars began to 
stir, she gave a refuge as long as she Hved to a number of 
persons of the Eehgion [Eeformers] who were driven or 
banished from their houses and estates ; she aided, succoured, 
and fed as many as she could. 

I myself, at the time of the second troubles, was with 
the forces in Gascoigne, commanded by MM. de Terridfes 


and de Montsalfes, amounting to eight thousand men, then 
on their way to join the king. We passed through Mon- 
targis and went, the leaders, chief captains, and gentlemen, 
to pay our respects to Madame Een^e, as our duty com- 
manded. We saw in the castle, as I believe, more than 
three hundred persons of the Eeligion, who had taken 
refuge there from all parts of the country. An old maitre 
d'hotel, a very honest man, whom I had known in Ferrara, 
swore to me that she fed every day more than three hun- 
dred mouths of these poor people. 

In short, this princess was a true daughter of France in 
kindness and charity. She had also a great and lofty heart. 
I have seen her in Italy and at Court, hold her state as well 
as possible; and though she did not have an external ap- 
pearance of grandeur, her body being weakened, there was 
so much majesty in her royal face and speech that she 
showed plainly enough she was daughter of a king and of 

6. Mesdames Charlotte, Louise, Magdelaine, and Marguerite 

de France. 

I have said that Madame Claude [wife of Fran§ois I.] 
was fortunate in her fine progeny of daughters as well as of 
sons. First she had Mesdames Charlotte and Louise, whom 
death did not allow to reach the perfect age and noble fruit 
their tender youth had promised in sweet flowers. Had 
they come to the perfection of their years they would have 
equalled their sisters in mind and goodness, for their promise 
was great. Madame Louise was betrothed to the Emperor 
when she died. Thus are lovely rosebuds swept away by 
the wind, as well as full-blown flowers. Youth thus ravished 
is more to be regretted than old age, which has had its day 
and its loss is not great. Almost the same thing happened 


to Madame Magdelaine, their sister, who had no great time 
allowed her to enjoy the thhig in all the world she most 
desired ; which was, to be a queen, so proud and lofty was 
her heart. 

She was married to the King of Scotland ; and when they 
wanted to dissuade her — not, certainly, that he was not 
a brave and handsome prince, but because she thus con- 
demned herself to make her dwelling in a barbarous land 
among a brutal people — she replied : " At least I shall be 
queen so long as I live ; that is what I have always wished 
for." But when she arrived in Scotland she found that 
country just what they had told her, and very different 
from her sweet France. Still, without one sign of repent- 
ance, she said nothing except these words : " Alas ! I would 
be queen," — covering her sadness and the fire of her ambition 
with the ashes of patience as best she could. M. de Eon- 
sard, who went with her to Scotland, told me all this ; he 
had been a page of M. d'Orl^ans, who allowed him to go 
with her, to see the world. 

She did not live long a queen before she died, regretted 
by the king and all the country, for she was truly good, and 
made herself beloved, having, moreover, a fine mind, and 
being wise and virtuous. 

Her sister, Madame Marguerite de France [the second of 
the three Marguerites], afterwards Duchesse de Savoie, was 
so wise, virtuous, and perfect in learning and knowledge 
that she was called the Minerva, or the Pallas, of France, 
and for device she bore an olive branch with two serpents 
entwining it, and the words : Bcrum Sapientia custos : 
signifying that all things are ruled, or should be, by ^yisdom 
— of which she had much, and knowledge also ; improving 
them ever by continual study in the afternoons, and by 
lessons which she received from learned men, whom she 



loved above all other sorts of people. For which reason 
they honoured her as their goddess and patron. The great 
quantity of noble books which they wrote and dedicated to 
her show this, and as they have said enough I shall say no 
more about her learning. 

Her heart was grand and lofty. King Henri wished to 
marry her to M. de Vendome, first prince of the blood ; but 
she made answer that never would she marry a subject of 
the king, her brother. That is why she was so long with- 
out a husband; until, peace being made between the two 
Christian and Catholic kings, she was married to M. de 
Savoie, to whom she had aspired for a long time, ever since 
the days of King Frangois, when Pope Paul III. and King 
FranQois met at Nice, and the Queen of Navarre went, by 
command of the king, to see the late Due de Savoie in the 
castle of Nice, taking with her Madame Marguerite, her 
niece, who was thought most agreeable by M. de Savoie, 
and very suitable for his son. But the affair dragged on, 
because of the great war, until the peace, when the mar- 
riage was made and consummated at great cost to France ; 
for aU that we had conquered and held in Piedmont and 
Savoie for the space of thirty years, was given back in one 
hour ; so much did King Henri desire peace and love his 
sister, not sparing anything to marry her well. But all the 
same, the greater part of France and Piedmont murmured 
and said it was too much. 

Others thought it very strange, and others very incredible, 
until they had seen her ; and even foreigners mocked at us : 
and those who loved France and her true good wept, and 
lamented, especially those in Piedmont who did not wish to 
return to their former masters. 

As for the French soldiers, and the war companions who 
had so long enjoyed the garrisons, charms, and fine living of 



that beautiful country, there is no need to ask what they 
said, nor how they grumbled and were desperate and be- 
moaned themselves. Some, more Gascon than the rest, said : 
"Hey! ca'p cle Diou! for the little bit of flesh of that 
woman, must we give back that large and noble piece of 
earth ? " Others : " A fine thing truly to call her Minerva, 
goddess of chastity, and send her here to Piedmont to change 
her name at our expense ! " 

I have heard great captains say that if Piedmont had 
been left to us, and only Savoie and Bresse given up, the 
marriage would still have been very rich and very fine ; and 
if we could have stayed in Piedmont that region would 
have served as a school and an amusement to the French 
soldiers, who would have stayed there and not been so 
eager after civil wars, — it being the nature of Frenchmen to 
busy themselves always with the toils of Mars, and to hate 
idleness, rest, and peace. 

But such was now the unhappy fate of France. It was 
thus that peace was bought, and Madame de Savoie could 
not help it ; although she never desired the ruin of France ; 
on the contrary, she loved nothing so much as the people 
of her nation; and if she received benefits from them she 
was not ungrateful, but served them and succoured them 
all she could ; and as long as she lived she persuaded and 
won her husband. Monsieur de Savoie, to keep the peace, 
and not combine, he being a Spaniard for life, against France, 
which he did as soon as she was dead. For then he stirred 
up, supported, and strengthened secretly M. le Mar^chal de 
Bellegarde to do what he did and to rebel against the king, 
and seize upon the marquisate of Saluces (which I shall 
speak of elsewhere) ; in which certainly his Highness did 
great wrong, and ill returned the benefits received from the 
Kings of France his relatives, especially our late King 


Henri III., who, on his return from Poland, gave him so 
liberally Pignerol and Savillan. 

Many well-advised persons believe that if Madame de 
Savoie had lived she would have died sooner than allow 
that blow, so grateful did she feel to the land of her birth. 
And I have heard a very great person say that he thought 
that if Madame de Savoie were living and had seen her son 
seize upon the marquisate of Saluces (as he did in the time 
of the late king), she would have strangled him; indeed* 
the late king himself thought so and said so. That king, 
Henri III., felt such wrath at that stroke that the morning 
when the news reached him, as he was about to take the 
sacrament, he put off that act and would not do it, so excited, 
angry, and scrupulous was he, within as well as without ; 
and he always said that if his aunt had lived it would never 
have happened. 

Such was the good opinion this good princess left in the 
minds of the king and of other persons. And to tell the 
truth, as I know from high authority, if she had not been 
so good never would the king or his council have portioned 
her with such great wealth, which, surely, she never spared 
for France and Frenchmen. No Frenchman could com- 
plain, when addressing her for his necessities in going or 
coming across the mountains, that she did not succour and 
assist him and give him good money to help him on his 
way. I know that when we returned from Malta, she did 
great favours and gave much money to many Frenchmen 
who addressed her and asked her for it ; and also, without 
being asked, she offered it. I can say that, as knowing it 
myself ; for Mme. de Pontcarlier, sister of M. de Eetz, who 
was Madame de Savoie's favourite and lady of honour, asked 
me to supper one evening in her room, and gave me, in a 
purse, five hundred crowns on behalf of the said Madame, 


wlio loved my aunt, Mme. de Dampierre, extremely and had 
also loved my mother. But I can swear with truth and 
security that I did not take a penny of it, for I had enough 
with me to take me back to Court ; and had I not, I would 
rather have gone on foot than be so shameless and impudent 
as to beg of such a princess. I knew many who did not do 
like that, but took very readily what they could get. 

I have heard one of her stewards say that every year she 
put away in a coffer a third of her revenue to give to poor 
Frenchmen who passed through Savoie. That is the good 
Frenchwoman that she was ; and no one should complain 
of the wealth she took from France; and it was all her joy 
when she heard good news from there, and all her grief 
when it was bad. 

When the first wars broke out she felt such woe she thought 
to die of it; and when peace was made and she came to 
Lyon to meet the king and the queen-mother, she could not 
rejoice enough, begging the queen to tell her all ; and show- 
ing anger to several Huguenots, telling them and writing 
them that they stirred up strife, and urging them not to do 
so again ; for they honoured her much and had faith in her, 
because she gave pleasure to many; indeed M. I'Amiral 
[Coligny] would not have enjoyed his estates in Savoie had 
it not been for her. 

When the civil wars came on in Flanders she was the 
first to tell us on our arrival from Malta ; and you may be 
sure she was not sorry for them ; " for," said she, " those 
Spaniards rejoiced and scoffed at us for our discords, but now 
that they have their share they will scoff no longer." 

She was so beloved in the lands and countries of her hus- 
band that when she died tears flowed from the eyes of all, 
both great and small, so that for long they did not dry nor 
cease. She spoke for every one to her husband when they 


were in trouble and adversity, in pain or in fault, request- 
ing favour or pardon, which without her intercessions they 
would often not have had. Thus they called her their 

In short, she was the blessing of the world ; in all ways, 
as I have said, charitable, munificent, liberal, wise, virtuous, 
and so accessible and gentle as never was, principally to 
those of her nation ; for when they went to do her reverence 
she received them with such welcome they were shamed; 
the most unimportant gentlemen she honoured in the same 
way, and often did not speak to them until they were cov- 
ered. I know what I say, for, speaking with her on one 
occasion, she did me this honour, and urged and commanded 
me so much that I was constrained to say : " Madame, I 
think you do not take me for a Frenchman, but for one who 
is ignorant who you are and the rank you hold ; but I must 
honour you as belongs to me." She never spoke to any one 
sitting down herself, but always standing ; unless they were 
principal personages, and those I saw speaking to her she 
obliged to sit beside her. 

To conclude, one could never tell all the good of this 
princess as it was ; it would need a worthier writer than I 
to represent her virtues. I shall be silent, therefore, till 
some future time, and begia to tell of the daughters of our 
King Henri [II. and Catherine de' Medici], Mesdames 
Elisabeth, Claude, and Marguerite de France. 

7. Mesdames ElisahetJi, Claude, and Marguerite de France. 

I begin by the eldest, Madame Elisabeth de France, or 
rather I ought to call her the beautiful Elisabeth of the 
world on account of her rare virtues and perfections, the 
Queen of Spain, beloved and honoured by her people in her 
lifetime, and deeply regretted and mourned by the same after 


death, as I have said ahready in the Discourse I made upon 
her. Therefore I shall content myself for the present in 
writing no more, but will speak of her sister, the second 
daughter of King Henri, Madame Claude de France (the 
name of her grandmother), Duchesse de Lorraine, who was 
a beautiful, wise, virtuous, good, and gentle princess. So 
that every one at Court said that she resembled her mother 
and aunt and was their real image. She had a certain 
gayety in her face which pleased all those who looked at 
her. In her beauty she resembled her mother, in her 
knowledge and kindness she resembled her aunt; and the 
people of Lorraine found her ever kind as long as she lived, 
as I myself have seen when I went to that country; and 
after her death they found much to say of her. In fact, by 
her death that land was fiUed with regrets, and M. de 
Lorraine mourned her so much that, though he was young 
when widowed of her, he would not marry again, saying he 
could never find her like, though could he do so he would 
remarry, not being disinclined. 

She left a noble progeny and died in childbed, through 
the appetite of an old midwife of Paris, a drunkard, in 
whom she had more faith than in any other. 

The news of her death reached Eeims the day of the 
king's coronation, and all the Court were in mourning and 
extreme sadness, for her kindness was shown to all when 
she came there. The last time she came, the king, her 
brother, made her a gift of the ransoms of Guyenne, which 
came from the confiscations that took place there ; but the 
ransoms were made so heavy that often they exceeded the 
value of the confiscations. 

Mme. de Dampierre asked her for one, one day when I 
was present, for a gentleman whom I know. The princess 
made answer : " Mme. de Dampierre, I give it to you with 


all my heart, having merely accepted this gift from the 
king, my brother, not having asked for it; he gave it to 
me of his own good-will; not to injure France, for I am 
French and love all those who are so like myself ; they wiU 
have more courtesy from me than from another who might 
have had that gift; therefore what they want of me and 
ask of me I will give." And truly, those who had to do 
with her found her all courtesy, gentleness, and goodness. 

In short, she was a true daughter of France, having good 
mind and abihty, which she proved by seconding wisely and 
ably her husband, M. de Lorraine, in the government of his 
seigneuries and principahties. 

After this Claude de France, comes that beautiful Mar- 
guerite de France, Queen of Navarre, of whom I have 
already spoken ; for which reason I am silent here, awaiting 
another time ; for I think that April in its springtime never 
produced such lovely flowers and verdure as this princess 
of ours produced blooming at all seasons in noble and 
diverse ways, so that all the good in the world could be 
said of her. 

8. Madame Diane de France. 

Nor must I forget Madame Diane de France ; although 
she was bastard and a natural child, we must place her in 
the rank of the daughters of France, because she was ac- 
knowledged by the late King Henri [II.] and legitimatized 
and afterwards dowered as daughter of France ; for she 
. was given the duchy of Chastellerault, which she quitted to 
be Duchesse d'Angouleme, a title and estate she retains at 
this day, with all the privileges of a daughter of France, 
even to that of entering the cabinets and state business of 
her brothers, King Charles and King Henri III. (where I 
have often seen her), as though she were their own sister. 


Indeed, they loved her as such. She had much resemblance 
to King Henri, her father, as much in features of the face 
as in habits and actions. She loved all the exercises that 
he loved, whether arms, hunting, or horses. I think it is 
not possible for any lady to look better on horseback than 
she did, or to have better grace in riding. 

I have heard say (and read) from certain old persons, that 
little King Charles VIII. being in his kingdom of Naples, 
Mme. la Princesse de Melfi, coming to do him reverence, 
showed him her daughter, beautiful as an angel, mounted 
on a noble courser, managing him so weU, with all the airs 
and paces of the ring, that no equerry could have done 
better, and the king and all his Court were in great admira- 
tion and astonishment to see such beauty so dexterous on 
horseback, yet without doing shame to her sex. 

Those who have seen Madame d'Angouleme on horse- 
back were as much delighted and amazed ; for she was so 
born to it and had such grace that she resembled in that 
respect the beautiful Camilla, Queen of the Volsci ; she was 
so grand in body and shape and face that it was hard to 
find any one at Court as superb and graceful at that exercise ; 
nor did she exceed in any way the proper modesty and gen- 
tleness ; indeed, Uke the Princesse Melfi, she outdid modesty ; 
except when she rode through the country, when she showed 
some pretty performances that were very agreeable to those 
who beheld them. 

I remember that M. le Mar(5chal d'Amville, her brother- 
in-law, gave her, once upon a time, a very fine horse, which 
he named Ic Doctcur, because he stepped so daintily and ad- 
vanced curveting with such precision and nicety that a 
doctor could not have been wiser in his actions ; and that 
is why he called him so. I saw Madame d'AngouMme 
make that horse go more than three hundred steps pacing 

yf-i^x^''oe-' (xe- ^^/?-'/x^zre 


in that way ; and often the whole Court was amused to see 
it, and could not tell which to admire most, her firm seat, 
or her beautiful grace. Always, to add to her lustre, she 
was finely attired in a handsome and rich riding-dress, not 
forgetting a hat well garnished with plumes, worn h la 
Guelfe. Ah ! what a pity it is when old age comes to spoil 
such beauties and blemish such virtues; for now she has 
left all that, and quitted those exercises, and also the hunt- 
ing which became her so much ; for nothing was ever unbe- 
coming to her in her gestures and manners, like the king, 
her father, — she taking pains and pleasure in what she did, 
at a ball, in dancing; indeed in whatever dance it was, 
whether grave or gay, she was very accomphshed. 

She sang well, and played well on the lute and other in- 
struments. In fact, she is her father's daughter in that, as 
she is in kindness, for indeed she is very kind, and never 
gives pain to any one, although she has a grand and lofty 
heart, but her soul is generous, wise, and virtuous, and she 
has been much beloved by both her husbands. 

She was first married to the Due de Castro, of the house 
of Farnese, who was killed at the assault at Hesdin ; secondly, 
to M. de Montmorency, who made some difficulty in the 
beginning, having promised to marry Mile, de Pienne, one 
of the queen's maids of honour, a beautiful and virtuous 
girl ; but to obey a father who was angry and threatened 
to disinherit him, he obtained his release from his first 
promise and married Madame Diane. He lost nothing by 
the change, though the said Pienne came from one of the 
greatest famihes in France, and was one of the most beautiful, 
virtuous, and wise ladies of the Court, whom Madame Diane 
loved, and has always loved without any jealousy of her 
past affections with her husband. She knows how to con- 
trol herself, for she is very intelligent and of good under- 


standing. The kings, her brothers, and Monsieur loved her 
much, and so did the queens and duchesses, her sisters, for 
she never shamed them, being so perfect in all things. 

Kins Charles loved her, because she went with him to his 
hunts and other joyous amusements, and was always gay and 

King Henri [III.] loved her, because he knew that she 
loved him and liked to be with him. When war arose so 
cruelly on the death of M. de Guise, knowing the king, her 
brother, to be in need, she started from her house at Isle- 
Adam, in a dihgence, not without running great risks, being 
watched for on the road, and took him fifty thousand crowns, 
which she had saved from her revenues, and gave them to 
him. They arrived most h propos and, as I beheve, are still 
owing to her ; for which the king felt such good-will that 
had he lived he would have done great things for her, hav- 
ing tested her fine nature in his utmost need. And since 
his death she has had no heart for joy or profit, so much 
did she regret and still regrets him, and longs for vengeance, 
if her power were equal to her will, on those who kiUed him. 
But never has our present king [Henri IV.] consented to it, 
whatever prayer she makes, she holding Mme. de Montpen- 
sier guilty of the death of the king, her brother, abhorring her 
like the plague, and going so far as to teU her before Madame, 
the king's sister, that neither Madame nor the king had any 
honest reason to love her, except that through this murder 
of the late king they held the rank they did hold. What 
a hunt ! I hope to say more of this elsewhere ; therefore am 
I silent now. 

9. Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre. 

I must now speak somewhat of Marguerite, Queen of 
Navarre. Certauily she was not born daughter of a king of 


France, nor did she bear the name, except that of Valois or 
d'Orl^ans, because, as M. du Tillet says in his Memoirs, the 
surname of France does not belong to any but the daughters 
of France; and if they are born before their fathers are 
kings they do not take it until after their said fathers' 
accession to the crown. Nevertheless this Marguerite, as 
the greatest persons of those days have said, was held to be 
daughter of France for her great virtues, although there 
was some wrong in putting her in that rank. That is why 
we place her here among the Daughters of France.^ 

She was a princess of very great mind and ability, both 
by nature and power of acquisition, for she gave herself to 
letters in her early years and continued to do so as long as 
she lived, liking and conversing with the most learned men 
in her brother's kingdom in the days of her grandeur and 
usually at Court. They all so honoured her that they 
called her their Maecenas ; and most of their books com- 
posed at that period were dedicated either to her brother, 
the king, who was also learned, or to her. 

She herself composed well, and made a book which she 
entitled "La Marguerite des Marguerites" which is very 
fine and can still be found in print.^ She often composed 
comedies and moraUties, which were called in those days 
pastorals, and had them played and represented by the maids 
of honour at her Court. 

She was fond of composing spiritual songs, for her heart 
was much given to God ; and for that reason she bore as 
her device a marigold, which is the flower that has the most 
affinity with the sun of any there is, whether in similitude 
of its leaves to rays, or by reason of the fact that usually it 

^ She was daughter of Charles, Due d'Angouleme, and Louise de Savoie, 
great-granddaughter of Charles V., and sister of Fran9ois I. — Tk. 
2 See Appendix. 


turns to the sun "wherever it goes from east to west, opening 
and closing according to its rise and its setting. Also she 
arranged this device with the words : Non inferiora secutus — 
" It stops not for earthly things ; " meaning that she aimed 
and directed all her actions, thoughts, will, and affections to 
that great sun on high which is God ; and for that reason 
was she suspected of being of Luther's religion. But out 
of the respect and love she bore the king, her brother, who 
loved her only and called her his darling [his mignonne'] 
she never made any profession or semblance of that rehgion ; 
and if she believed it she kept it in her soul very secretly, 
because the king hated it much, saying that that, and all 
other new sects, tended more to the destruction of kingdoms, 
monarchies, and civil dominions than to the edification of 

The great sultan, Solyman, said the same ; declaring that 
however much it upset many points of the Christian rehgion 
and the pope, he could not like it, " because," he said, " the 
monks of this new faith are only seditious mischief- 
makers, who can never rest unless they are stirring up 
trouble." That is why King Frangois, a wise prince if ever 
there was one, foreseeing the miseries that would come in 
many ways to Christianity, hated these people and was 
rather rigorous in burning alive the heretics of his day. 
Nevertheless, he favoured the Protestant princes of Ger- 
many against the emperor. That is how these great kings 
govern as they please. 

I have heard a trustworthy person relate how the Con- 
notable de Montmorency, in the days of his greatest favour, 
discoursing of this with the king, made no difficulty or 
scruple in telling him that if he wanted to exterminate the 
heretics of his kingdom he would have to begin with his 
Court and his nearest relations, naming the queen, his 


sister. To whicli the king replied : " Do not speak of her ; 
she loves me too well. She will never believe except as I 
believe, and never will she take any religion prejudicial to 
my State." After which, hearing of it, she never liked M. 
le conn^table, and helped much in his disfavour and banish- 
ment from Court. Now it happened that the day on which 
her daughter, the Princesse de Navarre, was married to the 
Due de Clfeves at Chastellerault, the bride was so weighted 
with jewels and with her gown of gold and silver stuff that 
her body was too weak to walk to church ; on which the 
king commanded the conn^table to take his niece in his arms 
and carry her to the church ; which amazed the Court very 
much ; a duty like that being little suitable and honourable 
for a conn^table, and might have been given very well to 
another. But the Queen of Navarre was in no wise displeased 
and said : " The man who tried to ruin me with my brother 
now serves to carry my daughter to church." 

I have this story from the person I mentioned, who added 
that M. le conn^table was much displeased at this duty and 
showed great vexation at being made such a spectacle, say- 
ing : " It is all over with my favour, I bid it farewell." And 
so it proved ; for after the fete and the wedding dinner, he 
had his dismissal and departed immediately. I heard this 
from my brother, who was then a page at Court and saw 
the whole mystery and remembered it well, for he had a 
good memory. Possibly I am wearisome in making this 
digression; but as it came to my remembrance, may I be 

To speak again of the learning of this queen : it was such 
that the ambassadors who spoke with her were greatly 
delighted, and made reports of it to their nations when 
they returned; in this she relieved the king, her brother, 
for they always went to her after paying their chief embassy 


to him ; and often when great affairs were concerned they 
intrusted them to her. While they awaited the final and 
complete decision of the king she knew well how to enter- 
tain and content them with fine discourse, in which she 
was opulent, besides being very clever in pumping them ; so 
that the king often said she assisted him much and re- 
lieved him a great deal. Therefore was it discussed, as I 
have heard tell, which of the two sisters served their 
brothers best, — one the Queen of Hungary, the emperor ; 
the other, Marguerite, King FranQois ; the one by the effects 
of war, the other by the efforts of her charming spirit and 

"When King Francois was so ill in Spain, being a prisoner, 
she went to him like a good sister and friend, under the 
safe-conduct of the emperor; and finding her brother in 
so piteous a state that had she not come he would surely 
have died, and knowing his nature and temperament far 
better than all his physicians, she treated him and caused 
him to be treated so well, according to her knowledge of 
him, that she cured him. Therefore the king often said 
that without her he would have died, and that forever 
would he recognize his obligation and love her for it ; as he 
did, until his death. She returned him the same love, so 
that I have heard say how, hearing of his last iUness, she 
said these words : " Whoever comes to my door and an- 
nounces the cure of the king, my brother, whoever may be 
that messenger, be he lazy, ill-humoured, dirty or unclean, I 
wiU kiss him as the neatest prince and gentleman of France, 
and if he needs a bed to repose his laziness upon, I will give 
him mine and lie myself on the hardest floor for the good 
news he brings me." But when she heard of his death her 
lamentations were so great, her regrets so keen, that never 
after did she recover from them, nor was she ever as before. 


When she was in Spain, as I have heard from my rela- 
tions, she spoke to the emperor so bravely and so honestly 
on the bad treatment he had given to the king, her brother, 
that he was quite amazed ; for she showed him plainly the 
ingratitude and felony he had practised, he, a vassal, to his 
seigneur in relation to Flanders ; after which she reproached 
him for his hardness of heart and want of pity to so great 
and good a king ; saying that to use him in this way would 
never win a heart so noble and royal and so sovereign as 
that of her brother ; and that if he died of such treatment, 
his death would not remain unpunished ; he having children 
who would some day, when they grew up, take signal 

Those words, pronounced so bravely and with such deep 
anger, gave the emperor much to think of, — so much indeed 
that he softened and visited the king and promised him 
many fine things, which he did not, nevertheless, perform 
at this time. 

Now, if the queen spoke so well to the emperor, she 
spoke still more strongly to his council, of whom she had 
audience. There she triumphed in speaking and haranguing 
nobly with that good grace she never was deprived of ; and 
she did so well with her fine speech that she made herself 
more pleasing than odious and vexatious, — all the more, 
withal, that she was young, beautiful, the widow of M. 
d'Alengon, and in the flower of her age ; which is very 
suitable to move and bend such hard and cruel persons. In 
short, she did so well that her reasons were thought good 
and pertinent, and she was held in great esteem by the 
emperor, his council, and the Court. Nevertheless he meant 
to play her a trick, because, not reflecting on the expiration 
of her safe-conduct and passport, she took no heed that the 
time was elapsing. But getting wind that the emperor as 


soon as her time had expired meant to arrest her, she, always 
courageous, mounted her horse and rode in eight days a dis- 
tance that should have taken fifteen; which effort so well 
succeeded that she reached the frontier of France very late 
on the evening of the day her passport expired, circumvent- 
ing thus his Imperial Majesty \_Sa Ccesaree Majestc] who 
would no douht have kept her had she overstayed her safe- 
conduct by a single day. She sent him word and wrote him 
this, and quarrelled with him for it when he passed through 
France. I heard this tale from Mme. la seneschale, my 
grandmother, who was with her at that time as lady of 

During the imprisonment of the king, her brother, she 
greatly assisted Mme. la regente, her mother, in governing 
the kingdom, contenting the princes, the grandees, and win- 
ning over the nobility ; because she was very accessible, and 
so won the hearts of many persons by the fine qualities 
she had in her. 

In short, she was a princess worthy of a great empire; 
besides being very kind, gentle, gracious, charitable, a great 
alms-giver and disdaining none. Therefore was she, after 
her death, regretted and bemoaned by everybody. The most 
learned persons vied with each other in making her epi- 
taph in Greek, Latin, French, Italian ; so much so that there 
is still a book of them extant, quite complete and very 

This queen often said to this one and that one who dis- 
coursed of death, and eternal happiness after it : " All that 
is true, but we shall stay a long time under ground before 
we come to that." I have heard my mother, who was one 
of her ladies, and my grandmother, who was her lady of 
honour, say that when they told her in the extremity of her 
illness that she must die, she thought those words most 


bitter, and repeated what I have told above ; adding that she 
was not so old but that she might live on for many years, 
bemg only fifty-two or fifty-three years old. She was born 
under the 10th degree of Aquarius, when Saturn was parted 
from Venus by quaternary decumbiture, on the 10 th of 
April, 1492, at ten in the evening ; having been conceived 
in the year 1491 at ten hours before mid-day and seventeen 
minutes, on the 11th of July. Good astrologers can make 
their computations upon that. She died in B^arn, at the 
castle of Audaus [Odos] in the month of December, 1549. 
Her age can be reckoned from that. She was older than 
the king, her brother, who was born at Cognac, September 
12th, year 1494, at nine in the evening, under the 21st de- 
gree of Gemini, having been conceived in the year 1493, 
December 10th, at ten o'clock in the morning, became king 
January 11th, 1514 [1515 new style], and died in 1547. 

This queen took her illness by looking at a comet which 
appeared at the death of Pope Paul III. ; she herself thought 
this, but possibly it only seemed so ; for suddenly her mouth 
was drawn a little sideways ; which her physician, M. d'Es- 
curanis, observing, he took her away, made her go to bed, 
and treated her; for it was a chill [caterre'], of which she 
died in eight days, after having well prepared herself for 
death. She died a good Christian and a Catholic, against 
the opinion of many ; but as for me, I can affirm, being a 
little boy at her Court with my mother and my grandmother, 
that we never saw any act to contradict it ; indeed, having 
retired to a monastery of women in Angoumois, called 
Tusson, on the death of the king, her brother, where she 
made her retreat and stayed the whole summer, she built 
a fine house there, and was often seen to do the office of 
abbess, and chant masses and vespers with the nuns in the 



I have heard tell of her that, one of her waiting-maids 
whom she liked much being near to death, she wished to see 
her die ; and when she was at the last gasp and rattle of 
death, she never stirred from beside her, gazing so fixedly 
upon her face that she never took her eyes away from it 
until she died. Some of her most privileged ladies asked 
her why she took such interest in seeing a human being 
pass away ; to which she answered that, having heard so 
many learned persons discourse and say that the soul and 
spirit issued from the body at the moment of death, she 
wished to see if any wind or noise could be perceived, or 
the shghtest resonance, but she had noticed nothing. She 
also gave a reason she had heard from the same learned 
persons, when she asked them why the swan sang so well 
before its death ; to which they answered it was for love 
of souls, that strove to issue through its long throat. In hke 
manner, she said, she had hoped to see issue or feel resound 
and hear that soul or spirit as it departed ; but she did not. 
And she added that if she were not firm in her faith she 
should not know what to think of this dislodgment and de- 
parture of the soul from the body ; but she believed in God 
and in what her Church commanded, without seeking further 
in curiosity ; for, in truth, she was one of those ladies as 
devotional as could ever be seen ; who had God upon her 
lips and feared Him also. 

In her gay moments she wrote a book which is entitled 
Les Nouvelles de la Rcine de Navarre, in which we find a 
style so sweet and fluent, so full of fine discourse and noble 
sentences that I have heard tell how the queen-mother and 
Madame de Savoie, being young, wished to join in writing 
tales themselves in imitation of the Queen of Xavarre ; for 
they knew that she was writing them. But when they saw 
hers, they felt such disgust that theirs could not approach 


them that they put their writings in the fire, and would 
not let them be seen ; a great pity, however, for both being 
very witty, nothing that was not good and pleasant could 
have come from such great ladies, who knew many good 

Queen Marguerite composed these tales mostly in her 
litter travelling through the country ; for she had many 
other great occupations in her retirement. I have heard 
this from my grandmother, who always went with her in 
her litter as lady of honour, holding the inkstand while she 
wrote, which she did most deftly and quickly, more quickly 
than if she had dictated. There was no one in the world so 
clever at making devices and mottoes in French, Latin, and 
other languages, of which we have a quantity in our house, 
on the beds and tapestries, composed by her. I have said 
enough about her at this time ; elsewhere I shall speak of 
her again. 

The Queen of Navarre, sister of Frangois I., has of late 
years frequently occupied the minds of literary and learned 
men. Her Letters have been published with much care ; in 
the edition given of the Poems of Frangois I. she is almost 
as much concerned as her brother, for she contributes a 
good share to the volume. At the present time [1853] the 
Soci^td des Bibliophiles, considering that there was no cor- 
rect edition of the tales and Nouvelles of this princess, — 
because, from the first, the early editors have treated the 
royal author with great freedom, so that it was difficult to 
find the true text of that curious work, more famous than 
read, — have assumed the task of filling this literary vacuum. 
The Society has trusted one of its most conscientious members, 
M. Le Eoux de Lincy, with compiling an edition from the 
original manuscripts ; and, moreover, wishing to give to 


this publication a stamp of solidity, that air of good old 
quality so pleasing to amateurs, they have sought for old 
type, obtaining some from Nuremberg dating back to the 
first half of the eighteenth century, and have caused to be 
cast the necessary quantity, which has been used in printing 
the present work, and will serve in future for other pubUca- 
tions of this Society. The Nouvdles de la Beine de Navarre 
are presented, with a portrait of the author and a fac-simile 
of her signature, in a grave, neat, and elegant manner. Let 
us therefore thank this Society, composed of lovers of fine 
books, for having thus applied their good taste and munifi- 
cence, and let us come to the study of the personage whom 
they have aided us to know. 

Marguerite de Valois, the first of the three Marguerites 
of the sixteenth century, does not altogether resemble the 
reputation made of her from afar. Born at the castle of 
Angoulgme, April 11, 1492, two years before her brother, 
who will in future be Francois I., she received from her 
mother, Louise de Savoie, early a widow, a virtuous and 
severe education. She learned Spanish, Italian, Latin, and 
later, Hebrew and Greek. All these studies were not made 
at once, nor in her earliest youth. Contemporary of the great 
movement of the Eenaissance, she shared in it gradually ; 
she endeavoured to comprehend it fully, and to follow it in 
all its branches, as became a person of lofty and serious 
spirit, with a full and facile understanding and more leisure 
than if she had been born upon the throne. Brantome pre- 
sents her to us as " a princess of very great mind and abihty, 
both by nature and power of acquisition." She continued to 
acquire as long as she lived ; she protected with all her heart 
and with all her influence the learned and literary men of 
all orders and kinds ; profiting by them and their intercourse 
for her own advantage, — a woman who could cope with 


Marot in the play of verses as well as she could answer 
Erasmus on nobler studies. 

We must not exaggerate, however; and the writings of 
Marguerite are sufficiently numerous to allow us to justly 
estimate iu her the two distinct parts of originality and 
simple iutelhgence. As poet and writer her originahty is 
of small account, or, to speak more precisely, she has none at 
alL Her intelligence, on the contrary, is great, active, eager, 
generous. There was in her day an immense movement of 
the human spirit, a Cause essentially literary and liberal, 
which filled all minds and hearts with enthusiasm as pubhc 
policy did much later. Marguerite, young, open to all good 
and noble sentiments, to virtue under all its forms, grew pas- 
sionate for this cause ; and when her brother Francois came 
to the throne she told herself that it was her mission to be 
its good genius and interpreter beside him, and to show her- 
self openly the patron and protectress of men who were ex- 
citing against themselves by their learned innovations much 
pedantic rancour and ill-will. It was thus that she allowed 
herself to be caught and won insensibly to the doctrines of 
the Eeformers, which appealed to her, in the first instance, 
under a learned and literary form. Translators of Scripture, 
they only sought, it seemed to her, to propagate its spirit 
and make it better understood by pious souls ; she enjoyed 
and favoured them in the light of learned men, and wel- 
comed them as loving at the same time " good letters and 
Christ ; " never suspecting any factious after-thought. And 
even after she appeared to be undeceived in the main, she 
continued to the last to plead for individuals to the king, 
her brother, with zeal and humanity. 

The passion that Marguerite had for that brother domi- 
nated all else. She was his elder by two years and a half. 
Louise de Savoie, the young widow, was only fifteen or six- 


teen years older than her daughter. These two women had, 
the one for her sou the other for her brother, a love that 
amounted to worship ; they saw m him, who was really to 
be the honour and crown of their house, a dauphin who 
would soon, when his reign was inaugurated at Marignano, 
become a glorious and triumphant Csesar. 

" The day of the Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25, 
1515," says Madame Louise in her Journal, " my son was 
anointed and crowned in the church at Eeims. For this I 
am very grateful to the Divine mercy, by which I am amply 
compensated for all the adversities and annoyances which 
came to me in my early years and in the flower of my youth. 
Humility has kept me company, and Patience has never 
abandoned me." 

And a few months later, noting down with pride the day 
of Marignano [victory of Francois I. over the Swiss and the 
Duke of Milan, making the French masters of Lombardy], 
she writes in the transport of her heart : — 

" September 13, which was Thursday, 1515, my son van- 
quished and destroyed the Swiss near Milan ; beginning the 
combat at five hours after mid-day, which lasted aU the night 
and the morrow till eleven o'clock before mid-day ; and that 
very day I started from Amboise to go on foot to Notre- 
Dame-de-Fontaines, to commend to her what I love better 
than myself, my son, glorious and triumphant C^sar, subju- 
gator of the Helvetians. 

" Item. That same day, September 13, 1515, between seven 
and eight in the evening, was seen in various parts of Flanders 
a flame of fire as long as a lance, which seemed as though it 
would fall upon the houses, but was so bright that a hundred 
torches could not have cast so great a light." 

Marguerite, learned and enlightened as she was, must 
have believed the presage, for she writes the same words as 


her mother. Married at seventeen years of age to the Due 
d'Alengon, an insignificant prince, she gave all her devotion 
and all her soul to her brother ; therefore when, in the tenth 
year of his reign, the disaster of Pavia took place (February 
25, 1525), and Marguerite learned the destruction of the 
French army and the captivity of their king, we can con- 
ceive the blow it was to her and to her mother. While 
Madame Louise, appointed regent of the kingdom, showed 
strength and courage in that position, we can follow the 
thoughts of Marguerite in the series of letters she wrote to 
her brother, which M. Genin has pubhshed. Her first word 
is written to console the captive and reassure him : "Madame 
(Louise de Savoie) has felt such doubling of strength that 
night and day there is not a moment lost for your affairs ; 
therefore you need have no anxiety or pain about your 
kingdom or your children." She congratulates herself on 
knowing that he has fallen into the hands of so kind and 
generous a victor as the Viceroy of Naples, Charles de Lan- 
noy ; she entreats him, for the sake of his mother, to take 
care of his health : " I have heard that you mean to do this 
Lent without eating flesh or eggs, and sometimes fast alto- 
gether for the honour of God. Monseigneur, as much as 
a very humble sister can implore you, I entreat you not to 
do this, but consider how fish goes against you ; also believe 
that if you do it Madame has sworn to do so too ; and I shall 
have the sorrow to see you both give way." 

Marguerite, about this time, sees her husband, who es- 
caped from Pavia, die at Lyon. She mourns him ; but after 
the first two days she surmounts her grief and conceals it 
from her mother the regent, because, not being able to 
render services herself, she should think she was most unfor- 
tunate, she says, to hinder and shake the spirit of her who 
can do such great things. When Marguerite is selected to 


go to her brother in Spain (September, 1525) and work for 
his deliverance, her joy is great. At last she can be useful 
to tliis brother, whom she considers " as him whom God has 
left her in this world ; father, brother, and husband." She 
mingles and varies in many ways those names of master, 
brother, king, which she accumulates upon him, without 
their sufficing to express her affection, so full and sincere is 
it : " Whatever it may be, eveii to casting to the winds the 
ashes of my hones to do you service, nothing can seem to me 
strange, or difficult, or painful, but always consolation, 
repose, honour," Such expressions, exaggerated in others, 
are true on Marguerite's lips. 

She succeeded but little in her mission to Spain ; there, 
where she sought to move generous hearts and make their 
fibre of honour vibrate, she found crafty dissimulation and 
policy. She was allowed to see her brother for a short time 
only ; he himself exacted that she should shorten her stay, 
thinking her more useful to his interests in France. She 
tears herself from him in grief, above all at leaving him ill, 
and as low as possible in health. Oh ! how she longed to 
return, to stay beside him, and to take the " place of lacquey 
beside his cot." It is her opinion that he should buy his 
liberty at any price ; let him return, no matter on what con- 
ditions ; no terms can be bad provided she sees him back in 
France, and none can be good if he is still in Spain. As 
soon as she sets foot in France she is received, she tells him, 
as a forerunner, " as the Baptist of Jesus Christ." Arriving 
at B(5ziers, she is surrounded by crowds. " I assure you, 
Monseigneur," she writes, " that when I tried to speak of 
you to two or three, the moment I named the king every- 
body pressed round to listen to me ; in short, I am con- 
strained to talk of you, and I never close my speech without 
an accompaniment of tears from persons of all classes." 


Such was at that time the true grief of France for the loss 
of her king. 

As Marguerite advances farther into the country she 
observes more and more the absence of the master; the 
kingdom is " like a body without a head, living to recover 
you, dying in the sense that you are absent." As for herself, 
seeing this, she thinks that her toils in Spain were more 
endurable than this stiUness in France, " where fancies 
torment me more than efforts." 

In general, all Marguerite's letters do the greatest honour 
to her soul, to her generous, solid qualities, filled with affec- 
tion and heartiness. Eomance and drama have many a 
time expended themselves, as was indeed their right, on this 
captivity in Madrid and on those interviews of Francois I. 
and his sister, which lend themselves to the imagination ; 
but the reading of these simple, devoted letters, laying bare 
their feelings, tells more than all. Here is a charming pas- 
sage in which she smiles to him and tries, on her return, to 
brighten the captive with news of his children. Francois I. 
at this date had five, all of whom, with one exception, were 
recovering from the measles. 

" And now," says Marguerite, " they are all entirely cured 
and very healthy; M. le dauphin does marvels in study- 
ing, mingling with his studies a hundred other exercises ; 
and there is no question now of temper, but of all the 
virtues. M. d'Orl^ans is nailed to his book and says he 
wants to be wise ; but M. dAngouleme knows more than 
the others, and does things that may be thought prophetic 
as well as childish; which, Monseigneur, you would be 
amazed to hear of. Little Margot is like me, and will not 
be ill ; they tell me here she has very good grace, and is 
growing much handsomer than Mademoiselle dAngouleme 
ever was." 


Mademoiselle d'Angoullme is herself; and the little Margot 
who promises to be prettier than her aunt and godmother, 
is the second of the Marguerites, who is presently to be 
Duchesse de Savoie. 

As a word has now been said about the beauty of Mar- 
guerite de Navarre, what are we to think about it? Her 
actual portrait lessens the exaggerated idea we might form 
of it from the eulogies of that day. Marguerite resembles 
her brother. She has his slightly aquiline and very long 
nose, the long, soft, and shrewd eye, the lips equally long, 
refined and smiling. The expression of her countenance is 
that of shrewdness on a basis of kindness. Her dress is 
simple ; her cotte or gown is made rather high and flat, with- 
out any frippery, and is trimmed with fur ; her mob-cap, 
low upon her head, encircles the forehead and upper part of 
the face, scarcely allowing any hair to be seen. She holds 
a little dog in her arms. The last of the Marguerites, that 
other Queen of Navarre, first wife of Henri IV., was the 
queen of modes and fashions in her youth ; she gave the 
tone. Our Marguerite did nothing of all that ; she left that 
r5le to the Duchesse d'Etampes and her like. Marot him- 
self, when praising her, insists particularly on her character- 
istic of gentleness, " which effaces the beauty of the most 
beautiful," on her chaste glance and that frank S2JCcch, with- 
out disguise^ without artifice. She was sincere, " joyous, 
laughing readily," fond of all honest gayety, and when she 
wanted to say a lively word, too risky in French, she said it 
in Italian or in Spanish. In other respects, full of rehgion, 
morality, and sound training ; justifying the magnificent 
eulogy bestowed upon her by Erasmus. That wise monarch 
of literature, that true emperor of the Latinity of his period, 
consoKng Marguerite at the moment when she was under 
the blow of the disaster of Pavia, writes to her : " I have 


long admired and loved in you many eminent gifts of God : 
prudence worthy of a philosopher, chastity, moderation, 
piety, invincible strength of soul, and a wonderful contempt 
for all perishable things. Who would not consider with 
admiration, in the sister of a great king, qualities which we 
can scarcely find in priests and monks ? " In this last stroke 
upon the monks we catch the slightly satirical tone of the 
Voltaire of those times. Eemark that in this letter addressed 
to Marguerite in 1525, and in another letter which closely 
followed the first, Erasmus thanks and congratulates her on 
the services she never ceases to render to the common cause 
of literature and tolerance. 

These services rendered by Marguerite were real ; but that 
which is a subject of eulogy on the part of some is a source 
of blame on the part of others. Her brother having mar- 
ried her for the second time, in 1527, to Henri d'Albret, 
King of Navarre, she held her little Court at Pau which 
thenceforth became the refuge and haven of all persecuted 
persons and innovators. " She favoured Calvinism, which 
she abandoned in the end," says President H^nault, " and 
was the cause of the rapid progress of that dawning sect." 
It is very true that Marguerite, open to all the literary and 
generous sentiments of her time, behaved as, later, a person 
on the verge of '89 might have favoured liberty with all 
her strength without wishing or even perceiving the ap- 
proaching revolution. She did at this period as did the 
whole Court of France, which, merely following fashion, 
the progress of Letters, the pleasure of understanding Holy 
Scripture and of chanting the Psalms in French, came near 
to being Lutheran or Calvinistic without knowing it. Their 
first awakening was on a morning (October 19, 1534) when 
they read, affixed to every wall in Paris, those bloody 
placards against the Catholic faith. The imprudent ones 


of the party had fired the train before the appointed time. 
Marguerite, good and loyal, knowing nothing of parties and 
judging only by honourable persons and the men of letters 
of her acquaintance, leaned to the belief that those infamous 
placards were the act, not of Protestants, but of those who 
sought a pretext to compromise and persecute them. Char- 
itable and humane, she never ceased to act upon her brother 
in the direction of clemency. 

It was thus that on two or three occasions she tried to 
save the unfortunate Berquin, who persisted in dogmatizing, 
and was, in spite of all the princess's efforts with the king, 
her brother, burned on the Grfeve, April 24, 1529. To read 
the passages of the letters in which she commends Berquin, 
one would think she espoused his opinions and his beliefs ; 
but we must not ask too much rigour and precision of Mar- 
guerite in her ideas and their expression. There are mo- 
ments, no doubt, in reading her verse or her prose, when 
we might think that she had fully accepted the Eeforma- 
tion; she reproduces its language, even its jargon. Then, 
side by side, we see her become once more, or rather continue 
to be, a believer after the manner of the best Catholics of her 
age, given to aU their practices, and not fearing to couple 
with them her inconsistencies. Montaigne, who had great 
esteem for her, could not prevent himself from noting, for 
example, her singular reflection about a young and very great 
prince, whose history she relates in her Nouvelles, and who 
has all the look of being Francois I. ; she shows him on 
his way to a rendezvous that is not edifying, and, to shorten 
his way, he obtains permission of the porter of a monastery 
to cross its enclosure. On his return, being no longer so 
hurried, the prince stops to pray in the church of the 
cloister ; " for," she says, " although he led the life of which 
I teU you, he was a prince who loved and feared God." 


Montaigne takes up that remark, and asks what good she 
found at such a moment in that idea of divine protection 
and favour. "This is not the only proof to be adduced," 
he adds, " that women are not fitted to treat of matters of 

And, in truth, Marguerite was no theologian ; she was a 
person of real piety, heart, knowledge, and humanity, who 
mingled with her serious life a happy, enjoying tempera- 
ment, making a most sincere harmony of it all ; which sur- 
prises us a little in the present day. Brant6me relates (in 
his " Lives of Illustrious Captains ") an anecdote of Marguerite 
which paints her very well in this connection and measure. 
A brother of BrantSme, the Capitaine de Bourdeille, had 
known at Ferrara in the household of the duchess of that 
country (daughter of Louis XII.) a French lady. Mile, de La 
Eoche, by whom he had made himself beloved. He brought 
her back with him to France, and she went to the Court of 
the Queen of Navarre, where she died, he no longer caring 
for her. One day, three months after this death, Capitaine 
de Bourdeille passed through Pau, and having gone to pay 
his respects to the Queen of Navarre as she returned from 
vespers, was well received by her ; and talking from topic to 
topic as they walked, the princess led him quietly through the 
church to the spot where the tomb of the lady he had loved 
and deserted was placed. " Cousin," she said, " do you not 
feel something moving beneath your feet ? " " No, madame," 
he rephed. "But reflect a moment, cousin," she said. 
" Madame, I do reflect," he answered, " but I feel no move- 
ment, for I am walking on sohd stone." " Then I inform 
you," said the queen, without keeping him further in sus- 
pense, " that you stand upon the grave and body of that poor 
Mile, de La Eoche, who is buried beneath you, whom you 
loved so much ; and, since souls have feehngs after death, it 


cannot be doubted that so honest a bemg, dying of coldness, 
felt your step above her ; and though you felt nothmg, be- 
cause of the thickness of that stone, she was moved, and 
conscious of your presence. Now, inasmuch as it is a pious 
deed to remember the dead, I request you to give her a 
Pater noster, an Ave Maria, and a De Profundis, and to 
sprinkle her with holy water; you will thus obtain the 
name of a faithful lover and a good Christian." She left 
him and went away, that he might fulfil with a collected 
mind the pious ceremonies that were due to the dead. I 
do not know why Brant6me adds the remark that, in his 
opinion, the princess said and did all this more from good 
grace and by way of conversation than from conviction ; it 
seems to me, on the contrary, that there was belief as well 
as grace, the conviction of a woman of delicacy and a pious 
soul, and that all is there harmonized. 

In Marguerite's own time there were not lacking those 
who blamed her for the protection she gave to the lettered 
friends of the Eeformation ; she found denunciators in the 
Sorbonne ; she found them equally at Court. The Conn^- 
table de Montmorency, speaking to the king of the necessity 
of purging the kingdom of heretics, added that he must begin 
with the Court and his nearest relations, naming the Queen 
of Navarre. " Do not speak of her," said the king, " she 
loves me too well ; she will believe only what I beheve ; she 
will never be of any religion prejudicial to my State." That 
saying sums up the truth : Marguerite could be of no other 
religion than that of her brother ; and Bayle has very well 
remarked, in a fine page of his criticism, that the more we 
show that Marguerite was not united in doctrine with the 
Protestants, the more we are forced to recognize her gener- 
osity, her loftiness of soul, and her pure humanity. By her 
womanly instinct she comprehended tolerance, like L'HCpital, 


like Henri lY., like Bayle himself. From the point of view 
of the State there may have been some danger in the direc- 
tion of this tolerance, too confiding and too complete ; it so 
appeared, in Marguerite's time, at this critical moment when 
the religion of the State, and with it the constitution of those 
days, was in danger of overthrow. Nevertheless, it is good 
that there should be such souls, — in love, before all else, with 
humanity ; who insinuate, in the long run, gentleness into 
public morals and into laws and justice hitherto cruel ; it is 
good because later, in epochs when severity begins again, 
repression, while it may be commanded by reasons of policy, 
is still forced to reckon with that spirit of humanity intro- 
duced into customs, and with acquired tolerance. Thus the 
rigour of present ages, softened and tempered as it now is by 
general manners and morals, would have been a blessing in 
past centuries ; these are points gained in civil life which are 
never lost afterwards. 

The Contes et Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre have 
nothing, as we can readily believe, that is much out of keep- 
ing or contradictory with her life and the habitual character 
of her thoughts. M. Genin has already made that judicious 
remark, and an attentive reading will only justify it. Those 
Tales are neither the gayeties nor the sins of youth; she 
wrote them at a ripe age, for the most part in her litter while 
travelling, and by way of amusement — but the amusement 
had its serious side. Death prevented her from concluding 
them; instead of the seven Days which we actually have, 
she intended to make ten, Kke Boccaccio; she wished to 
give, not an Heptameron, but a French Decameron. In her 
prologue she supposes that several persons of condition, 
French and Spanish, having met, in the month of September, 
at the baths of Cauterets, in the Pyrenees, separate after a 
few weeks ; the Spaniards returning as best they can across 


the mountains, the French delayed on their way by floods 
caused by the heavy rains. A certain number of these trav- 
ellers, men and women, after divers adventures more extraor- 
dinary than agreeable, find themselves again in company at 
the Abbey of Notre-Dame-de-Serrance, and there, as the 
river Gave is not fordable, they decide to build a bridge. 
"The abbd," says the narrator, "who was very glad they 
should make this outlay, because the number of pilgrims 
would thus be increased, furnished the workmen, but not a 
penny to the costs, such was his avarice. The workmen 
declaring that they could not build the bridge under ten or a 
dozen days, the company, half men, half women, began to 
get very weary." It became necessary to find some " pleasant 
and virtuous " occupation for those ten days, and for this 
they consulted a certain Dame Oisille, the oldest of the 

Dame Oisille responded in a manner most edifying : " My 
children, you ask me a thing that I find very difficult, 
namely: to teach you a pastime which shall dehver you 
from ennui. Having searched for this remedy all my life, I 
have found but one, and that is the reading of Holy Epistles, 
in which will be found the true and perfect joy of the soul, 
from which proceeds the repose and health of the body." But 
the joyous company cannot keep wholly to so austere a sys- 
tem, and it is agreed that the time shall be divided between 
the sacred and the profane. Early in the morning the com- 
pany assembled ia the chamber of Dame Oisille to share in 
her moral readings, and from there they went to mass. 
They dined at ten o'clock, after which, having retired each to 
his or her chamber for private affairs, they met again about 
mid-day on the meadow : " And, if it please you, every day, 
from mid-day tdl four o'clock, we went through the beautiful 
meadow, on the banks of the river du Gave, where the trees 


are so leafy that the sun cannot pierce the shadows, or heat 
the cookiess ; and there, seated at our ease, each told some 
story he had known, or else heard from a trustworthy per- 
son." Por it was well understood that nothing should be 
told that was not true; narrators must be content to dis- 
guise, if necessary, the names of both persons and places. 
The company numbered ten ; as many men as women, and 
each told a story daily ; so it followed that in ten days the 
hundred tales would be completed. Every afternoon, at four 
o'clock, a bell was rimg, giving notice that it was time to go 
to vespers ; the company went, — not, however, without some- 
times obliging the monks to wait for them ; to which delay 
the latter lent themselves with very good grace. Thus 
rolled the time away, no one believing that he or she had 
passed the limits of sanctioned gayety or committed any sin. 
The Tales of the Queen of Navarre have nothing abso- 
lutely out of keeping with this framework and design. 
Each story has a moral, a precept, either well or ill de- 
duced ; each is related to support some maxim, some theory, 
on the pre-eminence of one or other of the sexes, on the 
nature and essence of love, with examples or proofs (often 
very contestable) of what is advanced. Prudery apart, there 
is not much in these tales that is really charming. The 
subjects are those of the time. At moments we exclaim 
with Dame Oisille : " Good God ! shall we never get out of 
these stories of monks ? " "We are made aware that even the 
honourable men and well-bred women of those days were 
contemporaries of Eabelais. However, it aU turns to a good 
end. There is wit and subtlety in the discussions which 
serve as epilogue or prologue to the different tales. Most 
of the histories, being true, are without art, composition, or 
denouement. The Queen of ISTavarre has been very little 
imitated in the tales and verses made since her day ; in 



fact, she lends herself poorly to imitation. Only once does 
La Fontaine put her under contribution, but then in what 
is, as I think, the most piquant of her writings, namely : 
the tale of La Servante justifiec. In Marguerite's story a 
merchant, a carpet-dealer, emancipates himself with another 
than his wife, and is discovered by a female neighbour. 
Fearing that the latter will gabble, the merchant, " who knew 
how to give any colour to carpets," arranges matters in such 
a way that his wife is induced of her own accord to walk to 
the same place ; so that when the gossiping neighbour 
comes to tell the wife what she has seen, the latter replies, 
" Hey ! my crony, but that was I." This " that was I " re- 
peated many times and in varying tones, becomes comical, 
like the sayings of the farce called Fatelin, or a scene of 
Eegnard; there are, however, not many such sayings in 
Marguerite's Tales. 

A question which arises on the reading of these Nouvelles, 
the image and faithful reproduction of the good society of 
that day, is on the singularity that the tone of conversation 
should have varied so much among honourable persons at 
different epochs before it settled down upon the basis of 
true delicacy and decency. Elegant conversation dates 
much farther back than we suppose ; polished society began 
much earlier than we think. The character of conversation 
as we now understand it in society, and that which specially 
distinguishes it among moderns, is that women are admitted 
to it ; and this it was that led, during the finest period of 
the middle ages, to charming conversations in certain 
Courts of the South, and also in Normandy, in France, and 
in England. In those castles of the South where trouba- 
dours disported, and whence the echo of their sweet 
songs comes to us, where exquisite and ravishing stories 
were composed (like that of Aucassin et Nicolette), there 


must have been all the dehcacy, all the graces one could 
wish for in conversation. But taking matters as they ap- 
pear to us at the end of the 15th century, we notice a 
mixture, a very perceptible struggle between purity and 
license, between coarseness and refinement. The pretty little 
romance Jehan de SaintrS, in which the chivalric ideal is 
pictured from the start in the daintiest manner, and which 
assumes to give us a Httle code in action of politeness, 
courtesy and gallantry, — in a word, the complete education 
of a young equerry of the day, — this pretty romance is also 
full of pedantic precepts, essays on minute ceremonial, and 
towards the end it suddenly turns into gross sensuality and 
the triumph of the monk, after Eabelais. 

The vein of license and wanton language never ceased 
its flow from the time it originated, disguising itself in bril- 
liant moments and noble companies only to again unmask 
at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when it seems 
to borrow still further audacity from the Latin Eenaissance. 
This was the time when virtuous women told and openly 
discoursed of tales d, la Eoquelaure. Such is the tone of 
the society which the Nouvelles of Marguerite of Navarre 
represent to us, all the more naively because their intention 
is in no way indecent. Nearly a century was needed to 
reform this vice of taste; it was necessary that Mme. de 
Eambouillet and her daughter should come to reprimand 
and school the Court, that professors of good taste and polite 
language, like Mile, de Scuddry and the Chevalier de M^r^, 
should apply themselves for years to preach decorum ; and 
even then we shall find many backsHdings and vestiges of 
coarseness in the midst of even their refinement and 

The noble moment is that when, by some sudden change 
of season, intellects and minds are spread, all of a sudden, 


in a riclier and more equal manner over a whole generation 
of vigorous souls who then return eagerly to that which is 
natural, and give themselves up to it without restraint. That 
noble moment came in the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and nothing can be imagined comparable to the conversa- 
tions of the youth of the Cond^s, the La Eochefoucaulds, 
the Eetzes, the Saint-Evremonds, the S^vign^s, the Turennes. 
What perfect hours were those when Mme. de La Fayette 
talked with Madame Henriette, lying after dinner on the 
cushions ! Thus we come, across the greatest of centuries, 
to Mme. de Caylus, the smiling niece of Mme. de Maiate- 
non, to that airy perfection where the mind without reflect- 
ing about it, denies itself nothing and observes all. 

In the second half of the seventeenth century no one but 
Mme. Cornuel was allowed to use coarse language and be 
forgiven because of the spicy wit with which she seasoned it. 
At all times virtuous women must have heard and listened to 
more than they repeated; but the decisive moment (which 
needs to be noted) is that when they ceased to say unseemly 
things and fix them in writing without perceiving that they 
themselves were lacking in a virtue. This moment is what 
Queen Marguerite, as a romance-writer and maker of Nou- 
velles, had not the art to divine. 

As a poet she has nothing more than facility. She imi- 
tates and reproduces the various forms of poesy in use at 
that date. It is told how she often employed two secretaries, 
one to write down the French verses slie composed im- 
promptu, the other to transcribe her letters. 

Marguerite died at the Castle of Odos in Bigorre, December 
21, 1549, in her fifty-eighth year ; in yielding her last breath 
she cried out three times : " Jesus ! " She was the mother 
of Jeanne d'Albret. 

Such as I have shown her as a whole, endeavouring not to 


force lier features and to avoid all exaggeration, she deserves 
that name of gentil esprit [charming spirit] which has been 
so universally awarded to her ; she was the worthy sister of 
Fran§ois I., the worthy patron of the Eenaissance, the worthy 
grandmother of Henri IV., as much for her mercy as for her 
joyousness, and one Hkes to address her, in the halo that 
surrounds her, these verses which her memory calls forth 
and which blend themselves so well with our thought of 
her: — 

" Spirits, charming and lightsome, who have been, from all 
time, the grace and the honour of this land of France — ye 
who were born and played in those iron ages issuing from bar- 
baric horrors ; who, passing through cloisters, were welcomed 
there ; the joyous soul of burgher vigils and the gracious 
fetes of castles; ye who have blossomed often beside the 
throne, dispersing the weariness of pomps, giving to victory 
politeness, and recovering your smiles on the morrow of 
reverses ; ye who have taken many forms, tricksome, mock- 
ing, elegant, or tender, facile ever ; ye who have never failed 
to be born again at the moment you were said to have van- 
ished — the ages for us have grown stern, reason is more and 
more accredited, leisure has fled ; even our pleasures eager- 
ness has turned into business, peace is without repose, so 
busy is she with the useful ; to days serene come after- 
thoughts and cares to many a soul ; — 't is now the hour, or 
nevermore, for awakening ; the hour to once more grasp the 
world and again delight it, as, throughout all time, ye have 
known the way, eternally fresh and novel. Abandon not for- 
ever this land of France, spirits glad and lightsome ! " 

Saint-Beuve, Causeries du Lundi (1852), 



1. Isabelle d'Autriche, wife of Charles IX., King of France 
[daughter of the Emperor Maximilian //.]. 

We have had our Queen of France, IsabeUe d'Autriche, 
who was married to King Charles IX., of whom it is every- 
where said she was one of the best, the gentlest, the wisest, 
and most virtuous queens who reigned since kings and queens 
began to reign. I can say this, and every man who has 
ever seen or heard of her will say it with me, and not do 
wrong to others, but with the greatest truth. She was very 
beautiful, having the complexion of her face as fine and deli- 
cate as any lady of her Court, and very agreeable. Her 
figure was beautiful also, though it was of only medium 
height. She was extremely wise, and very virtuous and 
kind, never giving pain to others, no matter who, nor offend- 
ing any by a single word ; and as to that, she was very sober, 
speaking little, and then in Spanish. 

She was most devout, but in no way bigoted, not showing 
her devotion by external acts too visible and too extreme, 
such as I have seen in some of our paternosterers ; but, 
without failing in her ordinary hours of praying to God, she 
used them well, so that she did not need to borrow extraordi- 
nary ones. It is true, as I have heard her ladies tell, that 
when she was in bed and hidden, her curtains well-drawn, 
she would kneel on her knees, in her shift, and pray to God 

^ See Appendix. 

//Yf/ 'Cf^/^A^ 


an hour and a half, beating her breast and macerating it in 
her great devotion. Which they did not see by her consent, 
and then not till her husband, King Charles, was dead ; at 
which time, she haviag gone to bed and all her women with- 
drawn, one of them remained to sleep in her chamber ; and 
this lady, hearing her sigh one night, bethought her of look- 
ing through the curtains and saw her in that state, and pray- 
ing to God in that manner, and so continuing every night ; 
until at last the waiting-woman, who was familiar with her, 
began to remonstrate, and told her she did harm to her 
health. On which the queen was angry at being dis- 
covered and advised, and wished to conceal what she did, 
commanding her to say no word of it, and, for that night, 
desisted ; but the night after she made up for it, thinking 
that her women did not perceive what she did, whereas they 
saw and perceived her by her shadow thrown by the night- 
lamp filled with wax which she kept lighted on her bed to 
read and pray to God ; though other queens and princesses 
kept theirs upon their sideboards. Such ways of prayer are 
not like those of hypocrites, who, wishing to make an ap- 
pearance before the world, say their prayers and devotions 
pubhcly, mumbling them aloud, that others may think them 
devout and saintly. 

Thus prayed our queen for the soul of the king, her hus- 
band, whom she regretted deeply, — making her plaints and 
regrets, not as a crazed and despairing woman, with loud 
outcries, wounding her face, tearing her hair, and playing 
the woman who is praised for weeping; but mourning 
gently, shedding her beautiful and precious tears so tenderly, 
sighing so softly and lowly, that we knew she restrained 
her grief, not to make pretence to the world of brave ap- 
pearance (as I have seen some ladies do), but keeping in 
her soul her greatest anguish. Thus a torrent of water if 


arrested is more violent than one that runs its ordinary 

Here I am reminded to tell how, during the iUness of 
the king, her lord and husband, he dying on his bed, and 
she going to visit him ; suddenly she sat down beside him, 
not by his pillow as the custom is, but a httle apart and 
facing him where he lay ; not speaking to him, as her habit 
was, she held her eyes upon him so fixedly as she sat there 
you would have said she brooded over him in her heart with 
the love she bore him ; and then she was seen to shed tears 
so quietly and tenderly that those who did not look at her 
would not have known it, drying her eyes while making 
semblance to blow her nose, causing pity to one (for I saw 
her) in seeing her so tortured without yielding to her grief 
or her love, and without the king perceiving it. Then she 
rose, and went to pray God for his cure ; for she loved and 
honoured him extremely, although she knew his amorous 
complexion, and the mistresses that he had both for honour 
and for pleasure. But she never for that gave him worse 
welcome, nor said to him any harsh words ; bearing patiently 
her little jealousy, and the robbery he did to her. She was 
very proper and dignified with him ; indeed it was fire and 
water meeting together, for as much as the king was quick, 
eager, fiery, she was cold and very temperate. 

I have been told by those who know that after her widow- 
hood, among her most privileged ladies who tried to give 
her consolation, there was one (for you know among a large 
number there is always a clumsy one) who, thinking to 
gratify her said : " Ah, madame, if God instead of a daughter 
had given you a son, you would now be queen-mother of 
the king, and your grandeur would be increased and 
strengthened." " Alas ! " she rephed, " do not say to me such 
grievous things. As if France had not troubles enough 


without my producing her one which would complete her 
ruin ! For, had I a son, there would be more divisions, 
troubles, seditions to gain the government during his 
minority ; from that would come more wars than ever ; and 
each would be trying to get his profit in despoiling the 
poor child, as they would have done to the late king, my 
husband, when he was little, if the queen-mother and her 
good servitors had not opposed it. If I had a son, I should 
be miserable to think I had conceived liim and so caused 
a thousand maledictions from the people, whose voice is 
that of God. That is why I praise my God, and take with 
gratitude the fruit he gives me, whether it be to me myself 
for better or for worse." 

Such was the goodness of this good princess towards the 
country and people to which she had been brought by 
marriage. I have heard related how, at the massacre of 
Saint-Bartholomew, she, knowing nothing of it nor even 
hearing the shghtest breath of it, went to bed as usual, and 
did not wake till morning, at which time they told her of 
the fine drama that was playing \le heau mystere qui sejouoif]. 
" Alas ! " she said quickly, " the king, my husband, does he 
know of it ? " " Yes, madame," they answered her ; " it was 
he himself who ordered it." " my God ! " she cried, 
" what is this ? What counsellors are those who gave him 
such advice ? My God ! I implore thee, I beg thee to pardon 
him ; for if thou dost not pity him, I fear that this offence 
is unforgivable." Then she asked for her prayer-book and 
began her orisons, imploring God with tears in her eyes. 

Consider, I beg of you, the goodness and wisdom of this 
queen in not approving such a festival nor the deed then 
performed, although she had reasons to desire the total 
extermination of M. I'amiral and those of his religion, not 
only because they were contrary to hers, which she adored 


and honoured before all else in the world, but because she 
saw how they troubled the States of the king, her husband ; 
and also because the emperor, her father, had said to her 
when she parted from him to come to France : " My 
daughter, you will be queen of the finest, most powerful 
and greatest kingdom in the world, and for that I hold 
you to be very happy; but happier would you be if you 
could find that kingdom as flourishing as it once was ; but 
instead you will find it torn, divided, weakened ; for though 
the king, your husband, holds a good part of it, the princes 
and seigneurs of the Eeligion hold on their side the other 
part of it." And as he said to her, so she found it. 

This queen having become a widow, many persons, men 
and women of the Court, the most clear-sighted that I know, 
were of opinion that the king, on his return from Poland, 
would marry her although she was his sister-in-law ; for he 
could have done so by dispensation of the pope, who can do 
much in such matters, and above all for great personages 
because of the public good that comes of it. There were 
many reasons why this marriage should be made ; I leave 
them to be deduced by high discoursers, without alleging 
them myself. But among others was that of recognizing by 
this marriage the great obligations the king had received from 
the emperor on his return from Poland and departure thence ; 
for it cannot be doubted that if the emperor had placed the 
smallest obstacle in his way, he could never have left Poland 
or reached Prance safely. The Poles would have kept him 
had he not departed without bidding them farewell ; and the 
Germans lay in wait for him on all sides to catch him (as 
they did that brave King Eichard of England of whom we read 
in the chronicles) ; they would surely have taken liim prisoner 
and held him for ransom, and perhaps worse ; for they were 
bitter against him for the Saint-Bartholomew ; or, at least. 


the Protestant grinces were. But, voluntarily and without 
ceremony, he threw himself in good faith upon the em- 
peror, who received him very graciously and amiably, and 
with much honour and privilege as though they were 
brothers, and feasted him nobly; then, after having kept 
him several days, he conducted him himself for a day 
or two, giving him safe passage through his territory ; so 
that King Henri, by his favour, reached Carinthia, the land 
of the Venetians, Venice, and then his own kingdom. 

This was the obhgation the king was under to the em- 
peror ; so that many persons, as I have said, were of opinion 
that King Henri III. would meet it by drawing closer their 
alliance. But at the time he went to Poland he saw at 
Blamont, in Lorraine, Mademoiselle de Vaudemont, Louise 
de Lorraine, one of the handsomest, best, and most accom- 
phshed princesses in Christendom, on whom he cast his 
eyes so ardently that he was soon in love, and in such a 
manner that (nursing his flame during the whole of his 
absence) on his return to France he despatched from Lyon 
M. du Gua, one of his prime favourites, to Lorraine, where 
he arranged and concluded the marriage between him and 
her very easily, and without altercation, as I leave you to 
think ; because by the father and the daughter no such luck 
was expected, the one to be father-in-law of a king of 
France, and the daughter to be queen. Of her I shall speak 

To return now to our little queen, who, disKking to remain 
in France for several reasons, especially because she was not 
recognized and endowed as she should have been, resolved 
to go and finish the remainder of her noble days with the 
emperor and empress, her father and mother. When there, 
the Cathohc king being widowed of Queen Anne of Austria, 
own sister to Queen Isabelle, he desired to espouse the latter, 


and sent to beg the empress, his own sister, to lay his pro- 
posals before her. But she would not listen to them, not 
the first, nor the second, nor the third time her mother the 
empress spoke of them ; excusing herself on the honourable 
ashes of the king, her husband, which she would not insult 
by a second marriage, and also on the ground of too great 
consanguinity and close parentage between them, which 
might greatly anger God; on which the empress and her 
brother the king urged her to lay the matter before a very 
learned and eloquent Jesuit, who exhorted and preached to 
her as much as he could, not forgetting to quote all the 
passages of Holy and other Scripture, which might serve his 
purpose. But the queen confounded him quickly by other 
quotations as fine and more truthful, for, since her widow- 
hood, she had given herself to the study of God's word ; 
besides which, she told him her determined resolution, which 
was her most sacred defence, namely, not to forget her hus- 
band in a second marriage. On which the Jesuit was forced 
to leave her without gaining anything. But, being urged to 
return by a letter from the King of Spain, who would not 
accept the resolute answer of the princess, he treated her 
with rigorous words and even threats, so that she, not willing 
to lose her time contesting against him, cut him short by 
saying that if he meddled with her again she would make 
him repent it, and even went so far as to threaten to have 
him whipped in her kitchen. I have also heard, but I do 
not know if it be true, that this Jesuit having returned for 
the third time, she turned away and had him chastised for 
his presumption. I do not believe this ; for she loved persons 
of holy lives, as those men are. 

Such was the great constancy and noble firmness of this 
virtuous queen, which she kept to the end of her days, towards 
the venerated bones of the king her husband, which she 


honoured incessantly with regrets and tears ; and not being 
able to furnish more (for a fountain must in the end dry up) 
she succumbed, and died so young that she was only thirty- 
five years old at the time of her death. Loss most inesti- 
mable ! for she might long have served as a mirror of virtue 
to the honest ladies of all Christendom. 

If, of a surety, she manifested love to the king her husband, 
by her constancy, her virtuous continence, and her con- 
tinual grief, she showed it still more in her behaviour to the 
Queen of Navarre, her sister-in-law ; for, knowing her to be 
in a great extremity of famine in the castle of Usson in 
Auvergne, abandoned by most of her relations and by so 
many others whom she had obliged, she sent to her and 
offered her all her means, and so provided that she gave her 
half the revenue she received in France, sharing with her 
as if she had been her own sister ; and they say Queen Mar- 
guerite would indeed have suffered severely without this 
great liberality of her good and beautiful sister. Wherefore 
she deferred to her much, and honoured and loved her so 
that scarcely could she bear her death patiently, as people 
do in the world, but took to her bed for twenty days, weep- 
ing continually with constant moans, and ever since has not 
ceased to regret and deplore her ; expending on her memory 
most beautiful words, which she needed not to borrow from 
others, in order to praise her and to give her immortahty. 
I have been told that Queen Isabelle composed and printed 
a beautiful book wliich touched on the word of God, and 
also another concerning histories of what happened in France 
during the time she was there. I know not if this be true, 
but I am assured of it, and also that persons have seen that 
book in the hands of the Queen of Navarre, to whom she 
sent it before she died, and who set great store by it, calling 
it a fine thing ; and if so divine an oracle said so, we must 
believe it. 


This is a summary of what I have to say of our good 
Queen Isabelle, of her goodness, her virtue, her continence, 
her constancy, and of her loyal love to the king her husband. 
And were it not her nature to be good and virtuous (I 
heard M. de Langeac, who was in Spain when she died, tell 
how the empress said to him : " That which was best among 
us is no more "), we might suppose that in all her actions 
Queen Isabelle sought to imitate her mother and her aunts. 

2. Jeanne d'Aiitriche, wife of Jean, Infante of Portugal, and 
mother of the king, Don Sebastian. 

This princess of Spain was of great beauty and very 
majestic, or she would not have been a Spanish princess; 
for a fine carriage and good grace always accompany the 
majesty of a Spanish woman. I had the honour of seeing 
her and talking with her rather privately, being in Spain on 
my way back from Portugal. I had gone to pay my respects 
to our Queen of Spain, Elisabeth of France, and was talking 
with her, she asking news both of France and Portugal, 
when they came to tell her that Madame la Princesse Jeanne 
was arriving. On which the queen said to me, "Do not 
stir, M. de Bourdeille. You will see a beautiful and hon- 
ourable princess. It will please you to see her, and she 
wiU be very glad to see you and ask you news of the king 
her son, since you have lately seen him." Whereupon, the 
princess arrived, and I thought her very beautiful according 
to my taste, very well attired, and wearing on her head a 
Spanish toque of white crepe commg low in a point upon 
her nose, and dressed as a Spanish widow, who wears silk 
usually. I admired and gazed upon her so fixedly that I 
was on the point of feeling ravished when the queen called 
me and said that Madame la princesse wished to hear from 
me news of her son the king ; I had overheard her teUing 


'Ot^H/Z-'f e^j 



the princess that she was talking with a gentleman of her 
brother's Court who had just come from Portugal. 

On which I approached the princess, and kissed her gown 
in the Spanish manner. She received me very gently and 
intimately ; and then began to ask me news of the king, her 
son, his behaviour, and what I thought of him ; for at that 
time they were thinking to make a marriage between him 
and Madame Marguerite de France, sister of the king, and in 
these days Queen of Navarre. I told her everything ; for at 
that time I spoke Spanish as well as, or better than French. 
Among her other questions she asked me this : " Was her 
son handsome, and whom did he resemble ? " I told her he 
was certainly one of the handsomest princes of Christendom 
and resembled her in everything and was, in fact, the very 
image of her beauty ; at which she gave a little smile and 
the colour came into her face, which showed much gladness 
at what I said. After talking with her some time they came 
to call the queen to supper, and the two princesses separated ; 
the queen saying to me with a smile : " You have given her 
a great pleasure in what you said of the resemblance of her 

And afterwards she asked me what I thought of her; 
whether I did not think her an honourable woman and such 
as she had described her to me, adding : " I think she would 
like much to marry the king, my brother [Charles IX.], and 
I should like it, too." She knew I should repeat this to the 
queen-mother on my return to Court, which was then at Aries 
in Provence ; and I did so ; but she said she was too old for 
him, old enough to be his mother. I told the queen-mother, 
however, what had been said to me in Spain, on good author- 
ity, namely : that the princess had said she was firmly re- 
solved not to marry again unless with the King of France, 
and failing that to retire from the world. In fact, she had 


SO set her fancy on this high match and station, for her heart 
was very lofty, that she fully beheved in attaining her end 
and contentment ; otherwise she meant to end her days, as 
I have said, in a monastery, where she was already building 
a house for her retreat. Accordingly she kept this hope and 
belief very long in her mind, managing her widowhood sagely, 
until she heard of the marriage of the king to her niece [Isa- 
belle], and then, all hope being lost, she said these words, or 
something like them, as I have heard tell : " Though the 
niece be more in her springtime and less weighed with 
years than the aunt, the beauty of the aunt, now in its 
summer, all made and formed by charming years, and bear- 
ing fruit, is worth far more than the fruit her youthful 
blooms give promise of ; for the slightest misadventure will 
undo them, make them fall and perish, no more no less 
than the trees of spring, which with their lovely blooms 
promise fine fruits in summer ; but an evil wind may blow 
and beat them down and nought be left but leaves. But 
let it be done to the will of God, with whom I now shall 
marry for all time, and not with others." 

As she said, so she did, and led so good and holy a life 
apart from the world that she left to ladies, both great and 
small, a noble example to imitate. There may be some who 
have said : " Thank God she could not marry King Charles, 
for if she had done so she would have left behind the hard 
conditions of widowhood and resumed all the sweetness of 
marriage." That may be presumed. But may we not, on 
the other hand, presume that the great desire she showed the 
world to marry that great king was a form and manner of 
ostentation and Spanish pride, manifesting her lofty aspira- 
tions which she would not lower ? — for seeing her sister Marie 
Empress of Austria and wishing to equal her she aspired to 
be Queen of France which is worth an empire — or more. 


To conclude : she was, to my thinking, one of the most 
accomplished foreign princesses I have ever seen, though she 
may be blamed for retreating from the world more from vex- 
ation than devotion ; but the fact remains that she did it ; 
and her good and saintly end has shown in her I know not 
what of sanctity. 

3. Marie d'Autriche, wife of Louis, King of Hungary 
[sister of the Etrvperor Charles V.~\. 

Her aunt, Queen Marie of Hungary, did the same, although 
at a more advanced age, as much to retire from the world as 
to help the emperor, her brother, to serve God well in his 
retreat. This queen became a widow early, having lost 
King Louis, her husband, who was killed, very young, in a 
battle against the Turks, which he fought, not for good reason, 
but by persuasion and pertinacity of a cardinal who governed 
him much, assuring him that he must not distrust God and 
His just cause, for if there were but ten thousand Hungarians, 
they, being good Christians and fighting for God's quarrel, 
could make an end of a hundred thousand Turks ; and that 
cardinal so urged and pushed him to the point that he fought 
and lost the battle, and in trying to retreat he fell into a 
marsh and was smothered. Such are the blunders of men 
who want to manage armies and do not know the business. 

That was why the great Due de Guise, after he was so 
greatly deceived on his journey to Italy, said frequently: 
" I love the Church of God, but I will never undertake an 
enterprise of war on the word or faith of a priest," — meaning 
by that to lay blame on Pope Paul IV., who had not kept 
the promises he made him with great and solemn words, 
and also on M. le Cardinal, his brother, who had sounded 
the ford as far as Ptome, and lightly pushed his brother 
into it. 



To return to our great Queen Marie ; after this misfor- 
tune to her husband she was left a widow very young, very 
beautiful, as I have heard said by many persons who knew 
her, and as I judge myself from the portraits I have seen, 
which represent her without anything ugly to find fault with, 
unless it be her large, projecting mouth like that of the house 
of Austria ; though it does not really come from the house of 
Austria, but from that of Bourgogne ; for I have heard a 
lady of the Court of those times relate as follows : once 
when Queen El^onore, passing through Dijon, went to make 
her devotions at the Chartreux monastery of that town, she 
visited the venerable sepulchres of her ancestors, the Dues 
de Bourgogne, and was curious enough to have them opened, 
as many of our kings have done with theirs. She found 
them so well preserved that she recognised some by various 
signs, among others by their mouths, on which she suddenly 
cried out : " Ha ! I thought we got our mouths from Austria, 
but I see we get them from Marie de Bourgogne and the 
Dues de Bourgogne our ancestors. If I see my brother the 
emperor again, I shall tell him so, or else I shall send him 
word." The lady who was present told me that she heard 
this, and also that the queen spoke as if taking pleasure in 
it ; as indeed she had reason to do ; for the house of Bour- 
gogne was fully worth that of Austria, since it came from 
a son of France, Philippe the Bold, and had gained much 
property and great generosities of valour and courage from 
him ; for I believe there never were four greater dukes com- 
ing one after the other than those four Dues de Bourgogne. 
People may blame me sometimes for exaggerating; but I 
ought to be readily pardoned, because I do not know the art 
of writing. 

Our Queen Marie of Hungary was very beautiful and 
agreeable, though she was always a trifle masculine ; but in 


love slie was none the worse for that, nor in war, which she 
took as her principal exercise. The emperor, her brother, 
knowing how fitted for war and very able she was, sent for 
her to come to him, and there invested her with the office 
which had belonged to her Aunt Marguerite of Flanders, 
who had governed the Low Countries with as much mild- 
ness as her successor now showed rigour. Indeed, so long 
as Madame Marguerite lived King Francois never turned 
his wars in that direction, though the King of England 
urged it on him ; for he said that he did not wish to annoy 
that honest princess, who had shown herself so good to 
France and was so wise and virtuous, and yet so unfortunate 
in her marriages ; the first of which was with King Charles 
VIII., by whom she was sent back very young to her father's 
house ; another with the son of the King of Arragon named 
Jean, by whom she had a posthumous child who died as 
soon as he was born, and the third was with that handsome 
Due Philibert of Savoie, by whom she had no issue ; and 
for this reason she bore for her device the words Fortune 
infortune, fors une. She lies with her husband in that 
beautiful convent at Brou, which is so sumptuous, near the 
town of Bourg in Bresse, where I have seen it.^ 

Queen Marie of Hungary was of great assistance to the 
emperor, for he stood alone. It is true he had Ferdinand, 
king of the Eomans, his brother; but he was forced to 
show front against that great Sultan Solyman ; also he 
had upon his hands the affairs of Italy, which were then in 
combustion ; of Germany, which were little better because 
of the Grand Turk ; of Hungary ; of Spain, which had 
revolted under M. de Chifevres ; besides the Indies, the Low 

1 The tomb of Marguerite and Philibert is still to be seen in the beauti- 
ful church, and the above motto, which is carved upon it, has been the 
theme of much antiquarian discussion. — Tb. 


Countries, Barbary, and France, the greatest burden of all. 
In short, I may say the whole world almost. 

He made this sister Marie, whom he loved above every- 
thing, governor-general of all his Low Countries, where for the 
space of twenty-two or three years she served him so well 
that I know not how he could have done without her. 
For this he trusted her with all the affairs of the govern- 
ment, so that he himself, being in Flanders, left all to her, 
and the Council was held by her in her own house. It is 
true that she, being very wise and clever, deferred to him, 
and reported to him all that was done at the Council when 
he was not there, in which he took much pleasure. 

She made great wars, sometimes by her lieutenants, some- 
times in person, — always on horseback like a generous 
amazon. She was the first to light fires and conflagrations 
in France, — some in very noble houses and chateaux like 
that of FoUembray, a beautiful and charming house built 
by our kings for their comfort and pleasure in hunting. 
The king took this with such wrath and displeasure that 
before long he returned her the change for it, and revenged 
it on her beautiful mansion of Bains, held to be a miracle 
of the world, shaming (if I may say so from what I 
have heard those say who saw it in its perfection) the 
seven wonders of the world renowned in antiquity. She 
feted there the Emperor Charles and his whole Court, when 
his son. King Philip, came from Spain to Flanders to see 
him ; on which occasion its magnificences were seen in such 
excellence and perfection that nothing was talked of at 
that time but las fiestas de Bains, as the Spaniards say. I 
remember myself that on the journey to Bayonne [where 
Catherine de' Medici met her daughter Ehsabeth Queen 
of Spain], however great was the magnificence there pre- 
sented, in tourneys, combats, masquerades, and money ex- 


pended, nothing came up to las fiestas de Bains ; so said 
certain old Spanish gentlemen who had seen them, and also 
as I saw it stated in a Spanish book written expressly about 
them ; so that one could well say that nothuig finer was 
ever seen, not even, begging pardon of Eoman magnificence, 
the games of ancient times, barring the combats of gladiators 
and wild beasts. Except for them, the fetes of Bains were 
finer and more agreeable, more varied, more general. 

I would describe them here, according as I could borrow 
them from that Spanish book and as I heard of them from 
some who were present, even from Mme. de Fontaine, born 
Torcy, maid of honour at the time to Queen El^onore ; but I 
might be .blamed for being too digressive. I will keep it for 
a tonne houche another time, for the thing is worth it. 
Among some of the finest magnificences was this : Queen 
Marie had a great fortress built of brick, which was assaulted, 
defended, and succoured by six thousand foot-soldiers ; can- 
nonaded by thirty pieces of cannon, whether in the batteries 
or the defences, with the same ceremonies and doings as 
in real war ; which siege lasted three days, and never was 
anything seen so fine, the emperor taking great pleasure 
in it. 

You may be sure that if this queen played the sumptuous 
it was because she wanted to show her brother that if she 
held her States, pensions, benefits, even her conquests, through 
him, all were devoted to his glory and pleasure. In fact, the 
said emperor was greatly pleased and praised her much ; and 
reckoned the cost very high ; especially that of his chamber 
which was hung with tapestry of splendid warp, of silver 
and gold and silk, on which were figured and represented, 
the size of Hfe, all his fine conquests, great enterprises, expe- 
ditions of war, and the battles he had fought, given, and won, 
above all, not forgetting the flight of Solyman before Vienna, 


and the capture of King Francois. In short, there was 
nothing in it that was not exquisite. 

But the noble house lost its lustre soon after, being totally 
pillaged, ruuied, and razed to the ground. I have heard say 
that its mistress, when she heard of its rmn, fell into such 
distress, anger, and rage that for long she could not be paci- 
fied. Passing near there some time later she wished to see 
the ruins, and gazing at them very piteously with tears in 
her eyes, she swore that all France should repent of the deed, 
for never should she be at her ease untD. that fine Fontaine- 
bleau, of which they thought so much, was razed to the 
ground with not one stone left upon another. In fact, 
she vomited her rage upon poor Picardy, which felt it in 
flames. And we may believe that if peace had not inter- 
vened, her vengeance would have been greater still ; for she 
had a stern, hard heart, not easily appeased, and was thought 
to be, on her side as much as on ours, too cruel. But such is 
the nature of women, even the greatest, who are very quick 
to vengeance when offended. The emperor, it was said, loved 
her the better for it. 

I have heard it related how, when at Brussels, the emperor, 
in the great haU. where he had called together the general 
Assembly, in order to give up and despoil himself of his 
States, after making an harangue and saying all he wished 
to say to the Assembly and to his son, humbly thanked 
Queen Marie, his sister, who was seated beside him. On 
which she rose from her seat and, with a grand curtsey made 
to her brother with great and grave majesty and composed 
grace, she said, addressing her speech to the people : " ]\Ies- 
sieurs, since for twenty-three years it has pleased the em- 
peror, my brother, to give me the charge and government of 
all his Low Countries, I have employed and used therein all 
that God, nature, and fortune have given me of means and 


graces to acquit myself as well as possible. And if in any- 
thing I have been in fault, I am excusable, thinking I have 
never forgotten what I should remember, nor spared what 
was proper. Nevertheless, if I have been lacking in any way 
I beg you to pardon me. But if, in spite of this, some of you 
will not do so, and remain discontented with me, it is the 
least thing I care for, inasmuch as the emperor, my brother, 
is content ; for to please him alone has been my greatest 
desire and solicitude." So saying, and having made another 
grand curtsey to the emperor, she resumed her seat. I have 
heard it said that this speech was thought too haughty and 
defiant, both as relating to her office, and as bidding adieu to 
a people whom she ought to have left with a good word and 
in grief at her departure. But what did she care, — inasmuch 
as she had no other object than to please and content her 
brother and, from that moment, to quit the world and keep 
company with that brother in his retreat and his prayers 
[1556] ? 

I heard all this related by a gentleman of my brother who 
was then in Brussels, having gone there to negotiate the ran- 
som of my said brother who was taken prisoner at Hesdin 
and confined five years at Lisle in Flanders. The said gen- 
tleman witnessed this Assembly and all these sad acts of the 
emperor; and he told me that many persons were rather 
scandalized under their breaths at this proud speech of the 
queen ; though they dared say nothing, nor let it be seen, 
for they knew they had to do with a maitresse-femme who 
would, if irritated, deal them some blow as a parting gift. 
But here she was, relieved of her office, so that she accom- 
panied her brother to Spain and never left him again, she, 
and her sister, Queen El^onore, until he lay in his tomb ; the 
three surviving exactly a year one after the other. The 
emperor died first, the Queen of France, being the elder, next, 


and the Queen of Hungary last, — both sisters havmg very 
virtuously governed their widowhood. It is true that the 
Queen of Hungary was longer a widow than her sister with- 
out remarrying ; for her sister married twice, as much to be 
Queen of France, which was a fine morsel, as by prayer and 
persuasion of the emperor, in order that she might serve as a 
seal to secure peace and public tranquilhty ; though, indeed, 
this seal did not last long, for war broke out again soon after, 
more cruel than ever ; but the poor princess could not help 
that, for she had brought to Erance all she could; though 
the king, her husband, treated her no better for that, but 
cursed his marriage, as I have heard say. 

4. Louise de Lorraine, wife of Henri LLL., King of France. 

We can and should praise this princess who, in her mar- 
riage, behaved to the king, her husband, so wisely, chastely, 
and loyally that the tie which bound her to him remained 
indissoluble and was never loosened or undone, although the 
king her husband, loving change, went after others, as the 
fashion is with these great persons, who have a liberty of 
their own apart from other men. Moreover, within the first 
ten days of their marriage he gave her cause for discontent- 
ment, for he took away her waiting-maids and the ladies 
who had been with her and brought her up from childhood, 
whom she regretted much ; and more especially the sting 
went deep into her heart on account of Mile, de Changy, a 
beautiful and very honourable young lady, who should never 
have been banished from the company of her mistress, or 
from Court. It is a great vexation to lose a good companion 
and a confidante. 

I know that one of the said queen's most intimate ladies 
was so presumptuous as to say to her one day, laughmg and 
joking, that since she had no children by the king and could 

,=-2^.!f^^</«5?^ _!2^^ 


never have them, for reasons that were talked of in those 
days, she would do well to borrow a third and secret means 
to have them, in order not to be left without authority when 
the king should die, but rather be mother to a king and 
hold the rank and grandeur of the present queen-mother, her 
mother-in-law. But she rejected this bouffonesque advice, 
taking it in very bad part and nevermore liking the good 
lady-counsellor. She preferred to rest her grandeur on her 
chastity and virtue than upon a lineage issuing from vice : 
counsel of the world ! which, according to the doctrine of 
Macchiavelli, ought not to be rejected. 

But our Queen Louise, so wise and chaste and virtuous, 
did not desire, either by true or false means, to become 
queen-mother; though, had she been willing to play such 
a game, things would have been other than they are ; for 
no one would have taken notice, and many would have been 
confounded. For this reason the present king [Henri IV.] 
owes much to her, and should have loved and honoured her ; 
for had she played the trick and produced the child, he 
would only have been regent of France, and perhaps not 
that, and such weak title would not have guaranteed us from 
more wars and evils than we have so far had. Still, I have 
heard many, religious as well as worldly people, say and hold 
to this conclusion, namely : that Queen Louise would have 
done better to play that game, for then France would not 
have had the ruin and misery she has had, and will have, 
and that Christianity would have been the better for it. I 
make this question over to worthy and inquiring discoursers 
to give their opinion on it ; it is a brave subject and an ample 
one for the State ; but not for God, methinks, to whom our 
queen was so inclined, loving and adoring Him so truly that 
to serve Him she forgot herself and her high condition. For, 
being a very beautiful princess (in fact the king took her for 


her beauty and virtue), and young, delicate, and very lovable, 
she devoted herself to no other purpose than serving God, 
gomg to prayers, visiting the hospitals continually, nursing 
the sick, burying the dead, and omitting nothing of all the 
good and saintly works performed by saintly and devoted 
good women, princesses, and queens in the times past of the 
primitive Church. After the death of the king, her husband, 
she did the same, employing her time in mourning and 
regretting him, and in praying to God for his soul ; so that 
her widowed life was much the same as her married life. 

She was suspected during the hfetime of her husband of 
leaning a httle to the party of the Union [League] because, 
good Christian and Catholic that she was, she loved all who 
fought and combated for her faith and her religion ; but she 
never loved these and left them wholly after they killed her 
husband ; demanding no other vengeance or punishment than 
what it pleased God to send them, asking the same of men 
and, above all, of our present king ; who should, however, have 
done justice on that monstrous deed done to a sacred person. 

Thus lived this princess in marriage and died in widow- 
hood. She died in a reputation most beautiful and worthy 
of her, having lingered and languished long, without taking 
care of herself and giving way too much to her sadness. 
She made a noble and religious end. Before she died she 
ordered her crown to be placed on the pillow beside her, and 
would not have it moved as long as she hved ; and after her 
death she was crowned with it, and remained so. 

5. Marguerite de Lorraine, wife of Anne, Due de Joyeuse} 

Queen Louise left a sister, Madame de Joyeuse, who has 
imitated her modest and chaste Hfe, having made great 

1 The picture of the Ball at Court, under Henri III., attributed to Fran- 
9ois Clouet (see chapter ii. of this volume), was given in celebration of her 


mourning and lamentation for her husband, a brave, valiant, 
and accomplished seigneur. And I have heard say that 
when the present king was so tightly pressed in Brest, where 
M. du Maine with forty thousand men held him besieged and 
tied up in a sack, that if she had been in the place of the 
Due de Chartres, who commanded within, she would have 
revenged the death of her husband far better than did the 
said duke, who on account of the obligations he owed the 
Due de Joyeuse, should have done better. Since when, she 
has never liked him, but hated him more than the plague, 
not being able to excuse such a fault; though there are 
some who say that he kept the faith and loyalty he had 

But a woman justly or unjustly offended does not listen 
to excuses ; nor did this one, who never again loved our 
present king ; but she greatly regretted the late one [Henri 
III.] although she belonged to the League ; but she always 
said that she and her husband were under extreme obliga- 
tions to him. To conclude : she was a good and virtuous 
princess, who deserves honour for the grief she gave to the 
ashes of her husband for some time, although she remarried 
in the end with M. de Luxembourg. Being a woman, why 
should she languish ? 

6. Christine of Denmark, niece of the Emperor Charles V. 
Duchesse de Lorraine. 

After the departure of the Queen of Hungary no great 
princess remained near King Philip II. [to whom Charles 
V. resigned the Low Countries, Naples, and Sicily 1555] 

marriage. She advances, with her sweet and modest face (evidently a 
portrait) in the centre of the picture. Henri III. is seated under a red 
dais ; next him is Catherine de' Medici, his mother, and next to her is 
Louise de Lorraine, his wife ; leaning on the king's chair is Henri Due de 
Guise, le Balafr6, murdered by Henri III. at Blois in 1588. — Tr. 


except the Duchesse de Lorraine, Christine of Denmark, 
his cousin-germau, since called her Highness, who kept 
him good company so long as he stayed in Flanders, and 
made his Court shine ; for the Court of every king, prince, 
emperor, or monarch, however grand it be, is of httle 
account if it he not accompanied and made desirable by 
the Court of queen, empress, or great princess with numer- 
ous ladies and damoiselles ; as I have well perceived myself 
and heard discoursed of and said by the greatest personages. 

This princess, to my thinking, was one of the most beauti- 
ful and accomplished princesses I have ever seen. Her face 
was very agreeable, her figure tall, and her carriage fine; 
especially did she dress herself well, — so well that, in her 
time, she gave to our ladies of France and to her own a 
pattern and model for dressing the head with a coiffure and 
veil, called ci la Lorraine; and a fine sight it was on our 
Court ladies, who wore it only for fetes or great magnifi- 
cences, in order to adorn and display themselves, as did all 
Lorraine, in honour of her Highness. Above all, she had 
one of the prettiest hands that were ever seen; indeed I 
have heard our queen-mother praise it and compare it with 
her own. She held herself finely on horseback with very 
good grace, and always rode with stirrup and pommel, as 
she had learned from her aunt. Queen Mary of Hungary. 
I have heard say that the queen-mother learned this fashion 
from her, for up to that time she rode on the plank, which 
certainly does not show the grace or the fine action with the 
stirrup. She liked to imitate in riding the queen, her aunt, 
and never mounted any but Spanish or Turkish horses, 
barbs, or very fine jennets which went at an amble; I 
have known her have at one time a dozen very fine ones, 
of which it would be hard to say which was the finest. 

Her aunt, the queen, loved her much, finding her suited to 


her humour, whether in the exercises, hunting and other, that 
she loved, or in the virtues that she knew she possessed. 
While her husband lived she often went to Flanders to see 
her aunt, as Mme. de Fontaine told me; but after she 
became a widow, and especially after they took her son 
away from her, she left Lorraine in anger, for her heart was 
very lofty, and made her abode with the emperor her uncle, 
and the queens her aunts, who gladly received her. 

She bore very impatiently the parting from this son, 
though King Henri made every excuse to her, and declared 
he intended to adopt him as a son. But not being pacified, 
and seeing that they were giving the old fellow M. de la 
Brousse to her son as governor, taking away from him M. de 
Montbardon, a very wise and honourable gentleman whom 
the emperor had appointed, having known him for a very 
long time, this princess, finding how desperate the matter 
was, came to see King Henri on a Holy Thursday in the 
great gallery at Nancy, where the Court then was ; and with 
very composed grace and that great beauty which made her 
so admired, and without being awed or abating in any way 
her grandeur, she made him a great curtsey, entreating him, 
and explaining with tears in her eyes (which only made her 
the more beautiful) the wrong he did in taking her son from 
her, — an object so dear to her heart and all she had in the 
world ; also that she did not merit such treatment, in view 
of the great family from which she came; besides which 
she beheved she had never done anything against his service. 
She said these things so well, with such good grace and 
reasoning, and made her complaint so gently that the king, 
who was always courteous to ladies, had great compassion 
for her, — not only he, but all the princes and the great and 
the little people who saw that sight. 

The king, who was the most respectful king to ladies 


that was ever in France, answered her most civilly; not 
with a flourish of words or a great harangue, as Paradin in 
his History of France represents, for of himself and by 
nature he was not at all prolix, nor copious in words nor 
a great haranguer. Moreover, there is no need nor would 
it be becoming that a king should imitate in his speech a 
philosopher or an orator; so that the shortest words and 
briefest answers are best for a king ; as I have heard M. 
de Pibrac say, whose instruction was very sound on account 
of the learning that was ia him. Therefore, whoever reads 
that harangue of Paradin, made, or presumed to be made 
by King Henri, should believe none of it, for I have heard 
several great persons who were present declare that he could 
not have heard that answer or that discourse as he says 
he did. Very true it is that the king consoled her civilly 
and modestly on the desolation she expressed, and told her 
she had no reason to be troubled, because to secure his 
safety, and not from enmity, did he wish to keep her son 
beside him, and put him with his own eldest son to have 
the same education, same manner of life, same fortune ; and 
since he was of French extraction, and himself French, he 
could be better brought up at the Court of France, among 
the French, where he had relations and friends. Nor did he 
forget to remiad her that the house of Lorraine was more 
obliged to France than any house in Christendom, remind- 
ing her of the obligation of the Due de Lorraine in respect 
to Due Charles de Bourgogne, who was killed at Nancy. 

But all these fine words and reasons could not console 
her or make her bear her sorrow patiently. So that, hav- 
ing made her curtsey, still shedding many precious tears, 
she retired to her chamber, to the door of which the king 
conducted her ; and the next day, before his departure, she 
went to see him in his chamber to take leave of him, but 



could not obtain her request. Therefore, seeing her dear 
son taken before her eyes and departing for France, she 
resolved, on her side, to leave Lorraine and retire to Flanders, 
to her uncle, the emperor (how fine a word!), and to her 
cousin King Philip and the queens, her aunts (what 
alhance ! what titles !), which she did ; and never stirred 
thence till after the peace made between the two kings, 
when he of Spain crossed the seas and went away. 

She did much for this peace, I might say all; for the 
deputies, as much on one side as on the other, as I have 
heard tell, after much pains and time consumed at Cercan 
[Cateau-Cambrdsis] without doing or concluding anything, 
were all at fault and off the scent, like huntsmen, when 
she, being either instinct with the divine spirit, or moved 
by good Christian zeal and her natural good sense, under- 
took this great negotiation and conducted it so weU that 
the end was fortunate throughout all Christendom. Also it 
was said that no one could have been found more proper 
to move and place that great rock ; for she was a very 
clever and judicious lady if ever there was one, and of fine 
and grand authority ; and certainly small and low persons 
are not so proper for that as the great. On the other hand 
the king, her cousin [PhHip IL], beheved and trusted her 
greatly, esteeming her much, and loving her with a great 
affection and love ; as indeed he should, for she gave his 
Court great value and made it shiue, when otherwise it 
would have been obscure. Though afterwards, as I have 
been told, he did not treat her too well in the matter of her 
estates which came to her as dowry in the duchy of Milan ; 
she having been married first to Due Sforza, for, as I have 
heard say, he took and curtailed her of some. 

I was told that after the death of her son she remained 
on very ill terms with M. de Guise and his brother, the 


Cardinal, accusing them of having persuaded the king to 
keep her son on account of their ambition to see and have 
their near cousin adopted son and married to the house of 
France ; besides which, she had refused some time before 
to take M. de Guise in marriage, he having asked her to 
do so. She, who was haughty to the very extreme, replied 
that she would never marry the younger of a house whose 
eldest had been her husband ; and for that refusal M. de 
Guise bore her a grudge ever after, — though indeed he lost 
nothing by the change to Madame his wife, whom he mar- 
ried soon after, for she was of very illustrious birth and grand- 
daughter of Louis XIL, one of the bravest and best kings 
that ever wore the crown of France ; and, what is more, she 
was the handsomest woman in Christendom. 

I have heard tell that the first time these two handsome 
princesses saw each other, they were each so contemplative 
the one of the other, turning their eyes sometimes cross- 
ways, sometimes sideways, that neither could look enough, 
so fixed and attentive were they to watch each other. I 
leave you to think what thoughts they were turnirig ia 
their fine souls ; not more nor less than those we read of 
just before the great battle in Africa between Scipio and 
Hannibal (which was the final settlement of the war be- 
tween Kome and Carthage), when those two great captains 
met together during a truce of two hours, and, having ap- 
proached each other, they stood for a little space of time, lost 
in contemplation the one of the other, each ravished by the 
valour of his companion, both renowned for their noble 
deeds, so well represented in their faces, their bodies, and 
their fine and warlike ways and gestures. And then, hav- 
ing stood for some time thus wrapt in meditation of each 
other, they began to negotiate in the manner that Titus 
Livius describes so well. That is what virtue is, which 


makes itself admired amid hatreds and enmities, as beauty 
among jealousies, like that of the two ladies and princesses 
I have just been speaking of. 

Certainly their beauty and grace may be reckoned equal, 
though Mme. de Guise could slightly have carried the day ; 
but she was content without it, — being not at all vain or 
superb, but the sweetest, best, humblest, and most affable 
princess that could ever be seen. In her way, however, she 
was brave and proud, for nature had made her such, as much 
by beauty and form as by her grave bearing and noble 
majesty; so much so that on seeing her one feared to 
approach her; but having approached her one found only 
sweetness, candour, gayety; getting it all from her grand- 
father, that good father of his people, and the sweet air of 
France. True it is, she knew well how to keep her grandeur 
and glory when need was. 

Her Highness of Lorraine was, on the contrary, very 
vain-glorious, and rather too presumptuous. I saw that 
sometimes in relation to Queen Marie Stuart of Scotland, 
who, being a widow, made a journey to Lorraine, on which 
I went ; and you would have said that very often her said 
Highness was determined to equal the majesty of the said 
queen. But the latter, being very clever and of great cour- 
age, never let her pass the line, or make any advance ; 
although Queen Marie was always gentle, because her uncle, 
the Cardinal, had warned and instructed her as to the tem- 
per of her said Highness. Then she, being unable to be rid 
of her pride, thought to soothe it a little on the queen-mother 
when they met. But that indeed was pride to pride and a 
half ; for the queen-mother was the proudest woman on earth 
when she chose to be. I have heard her called so by many 
great personages ; for when it was necessary to repress the 
vainglory of some one who wanted to seem of importance 



she knew how to abase him to the centre of the earth. How- 
ever, she bore herself civilly to her Highness, deferring to 
her much and honouring her ; but always holding the bridle 
in hand, sometimes high, sometimes low, for fear she should 
get away ; and I heard her myself say, two or three times : 
" That is the most vainglorious woman I ever saw." 

The same thing happened when her Highness came to the 
coronation of the late King Charles IX. at Eeims, to which 
she was invited. When she arrived, she would not enter the 
town on horseback, fearing she could not thus show her 
grandeur and high estate ; but she put herself into a most 
superb carriage, entirely covered with black velvet, on account 
of her widowhood, which was drawn by four Turk horses, 
the finest that could be chosen, and harnessed all four abreast 
after the manner of a triumphal car. She sat by the door, 
very well dressed, but all in black, in a gown of velvet ; but 
her head was white and very handsomely and superbly 
coiffed and adorned. At the other door of her carriage was 
one of her daughters, afterwards Mme. la Duchesse de 
Bavifere, and within was the Princesse de Mac^doine, her 
lady of honour. 

The queen-mother, wishing to see her enter the courtyard 
in this triumphal manner, placed herself at a window and 
said, quite low, " There 's a proud woman ! " Then her High- 
ness having descended from her carriage and come upstairs, 
the queen advanced to receive her at the middle of the room, 
not a step beyond, and rather nearer the door than farther 
from it. There she received her very well ; because at that 
time she governed everything. King Charles being so young ; 
and did all she wished, which was certainly a great honour 
to her Highness. All the Court, from the highest to the 
lowest, esteemed and admired her much and thought her 
very handsome, although she was dechuing in years, being 


at that time rather more than forty; but nothing as yet 
showed it, her autumn surpassing the summer of others. 

She died one year after hearing the news that she was 
Queen of Denmark, from which she came, and that the king- 
dom had fallen to her ; so that before her death she was able 
to change the title of Highness, she had borne so long, to 
that of Majesty. And yet, for all that, as I have heard, she 
was resolved not to go to her kingdom, but to end her days 
in her dower-house at Tortonia in Italy, where the country- 
side called her only Madame de Tortonia ; she having retired 
there some time before her death, as much because of cer- 
tain vows she had made to the saints of those parts as to 
be near the baths of Tortonia, she being feeble in health 
and very gouty. 

Her practices were fine, saintly, and honourable, to wit : 
praying God, giving alms, and doing great charity to the poor, 
above all to widows. This is a summary of what I have 
heard of this great princess, who, though a widow and very 
beautiful, conducted herself virtuously. It is true that one 
might say she was married twice : first with Due Sforza, but 
he died at once ; they did not hve a year together before she 
was a widow at fifteen. Then her uncle, the Emperor 
Charles V., remarried her to the Due de Lorraine, to 
strengthen his alliance with him ; but there again she was a 
widow in the flower of her age, having enjoyed that fine 
marriage but a very few years ; and those that remained to 
her, which were her finest and most precious in usefulness, 
she kept and consumed in a chaste widowhood. 

7. Marie d'AutricIie, wife of the Em^peror Maximilian II. 

This empress, though she was left a widow quite young 
and very beautiful, would never marry again, but contained 
herself and continued in widowhood very virtuously, having 


left Austria and Germany, tlie scene of her empire, after 
tlie death, of her husband. She returned to her brother, 
Philip II. in Spain ; he having sent for her, and begged 
her to come and assist him with the heavy burden of his 
affairs, whicli she did ; being a very wise and judicious 
princess. I have heard the late King Henri III. say, — and 
be was a better judge of people than any man in his king- 
dom, — that to his mind she was one of the ablest and most 
honourable princesses in the world. 

On her way to Spain, after crossing the Germanys, sh.e 
came to Italy and Genoa, where she embarked ; and as it was 
winter and the month of December when she set sail, bad 
weather overtook her near Marseille, where she was forced 
to put in and anchor. But still, for all that, she would not 
enter tbe port, neither her own galley nor the others, for 
fear of causing suspicion or offence. Only once did she 
enter the town, just to see it. She remained there eight 
days awaiting fair weather. Her best exercise was in the 
mornings, when she left her galley (where she slept) and 
went to hear mass and service at the church of Saint- Victor, 
with very ardent devotion. Then her dinner was brought 
and prepared in the abbey, where she dined; and after 
dinner she talked with her women or with certain gentle- 
men from Marseille, who paid her all the honour and 
reverence that were due to so great a princess ; for King 
Henri had commanded them to receive her as they would 
himself, in return for the good greeting and cheer she had 
given him in Vienna. So soon as she perceived this she 
showed herself most friendly, and spoke to them very freely 
both in German and in French ; so that they were well con- 
tent with her and she with them, selecting twenty especially ; 
among them M. Castellan, called the Seigneur Altivity, cap- 
tain of the galleys, who was distinguished for having mar- 


ried the beautiful Chateauneuf at Court, and also for having 
killed the Grand-prior, as I shall relate elsewhere. 

It was his wife who told me all that I now relate, and 
discoursed to me about the perfections of this great princess ; 
and how she admired Marseille, thinking it very fine, and 
went about with her on her promenades. At night she re- 
turned to her galley, so that if the fine weather and the 
good wind came, she might quickly set sail. I was at our 
Court when news was brought to the king of this passing 
visit ; and I saw him very uneasy lest she should not be 
received as she ought to be, and as he wished. This princess 
still lives, and continues in all her fine virtues. She greatly 
helped and served her brother, as I have been told. Since 
then she has retired to a convent of women called the " bare- 
footed " [Carmelites], because they wear neither shoes nor 
stockings. Her sister, the Princess of Spain, founded them. 

8. Blanche de Montferrat, Duchesse de Savoie. 

While I am on this subject of noble widows I must say 
two words of one of past times, namely: that honourable 
widow, Madame Blanche de Montferrat, one of the most 
ancient houses in Italy, who was Duchesse de Savoie and 
thought to be the handsomest and most perfect princess of 
her time ; also very virtuous and judicious, for she governed 
wisely the minority of her son and his estates ; she being 
left a widow at the age of twenty-three. 

It was she who received so honourably our young King 
Charles VIII. when he went to his kingdom of Naples, 
through aU her lands and principally her city of Turin, 
where she gave him a pompous entry, and met him in per- 
son, very sumptuously accoutred. She showed she felt 
herself a great lady ; for she appeared that day in magnifi- 
cent state, dressed in a grand gown of crinkled cloth of 


gold, edged with large diamonds, rubies, sappliires, emeralds, 
and other precious stones. Eound her throat she wore a 
necklace of very large oriental pearls, the value of which 
none could estimate, with bracelets of the same. She was 
mounted on a beautiful white ambhng mare, harnessed most 
superbly and led by six lacqueys dressed in figured cloth of 
gold. A great band of damoiselles followed her, very richly, 
daintily, and neatly dressed in the Piedmont fashion, which 
was fine to see ; and after them came a very long troop of 
noblemen and knights of the country. Then there entered 
and marched King Charles, beneath a rich canopy, and went 
to the castle, where he lodged, and where Madame de Savoie 
presented to him her son, who was very young. After which 
she made the king a fine harangue, offering her lands and 
means, both hers and her son's ; which the king received 
with very good heart, and thanked her much, feeUng greatly 
obliged to her. Throughout the town were everywhere seen 
the arms of France and those of Savoie interlaced in a great 
lover's-knot, which bound together the two escutcheons and 
the two orders, with these words : Sanguinis arctus amor ; 
as may be read in the " Chronicles of Savoie." 

I have heard several of our fathers and mothers, who got 
it from their parents, and also Mademoiselle the Sdndchale 
de Poitou, my grandmother, then a damoiselle at Court, affirm 
that nothing was talked of but the beauty, wisdom, and 
wit of this princess, when the courtiers and gallants returned 
from their journey ; and, above all, by the king, who seemed, 
from appearance, to be wounded in his heart. 

At any rate, even without her beauty, he had good reason 
to love her ; for she aided him with all the means in her 
power, and gave up her jewels and pearls and precious stones 
to send them to him that he might use them and pledge 
them as he pleased ; which was indeed a very great obliga- 


tion, for ladies bear a great affection to their precious stones 
and rings and jewels, and would sooner give and pledge 
some precious piece of their person than their wealth of 
jewels — I speak of some, not aU. Certainly this obligation 
was great; for without this courtesy, and that also of the 
Marquise de Montferrat, a very virtuous lady and very hand- 
some, he would have met in the long run a short shame, and 
must have returned from the semi-journey he had under- 
taken without money ; having done worse than that bishop 
of France who went to the Council of Trent without money 
and without Latin. What an embarkation without biscuit ! 
However, there is a difference between the two ; for what 
one did was out of noble generosity and fine ambition, which 
closed his eyes to all inconveniency, thinking nothing im- 
possible to his brave heart ; while as for the other, he lacked 
wit and ability, sinning in that through ignorance and 
stupidity — if it was not that he trusted to beg them when 
he got there. 

In this discourse that I have made of that fine entry, 
there is to be noted the superbness of the accoutrements 
of this princess, which seem to be more those of a married 
woman than a widow. Upon which the ladies said that for 
so great a king she could dispense with mourning ; and also 
that great people, men and women, gave the law to them- 
selves ; and besides, that in those times the widows, so it 
was said, were not so restricted nor so reformed in their 
clothes as they have been since for the last forty years ; 
like a certain lady whom I know, who, being in the good 
graces and delights of a king [probably Diane de Poitiers] 
dressed herself much k la modest (though always in silk), the 
better to cover and hide her game ; and in that respect, the 
widows of the Court, wishing to imitate her, did the same. 
But this lady did not reform herself so much, nor to such 


austerity, that she ceased to dress prettily and pompously, 
though always in black and white ; indeed there seemed 
more of worldliness than of widow's reformation about it ; 
for especially did she always show her beautiful bosom, I 
have heard the queen, mother of King Henri, say the same 
thing at the coronation and wedding of King Henri HI., 
namely : that the widows in times past did not have such 
great regard to their clothes and to modesty of actions as 
they have to-day ; the which she said she saw in the times 
of King Francois, who wanted his Court to be free in every 
way ; and even the widows danced, and the partners took 
them as readily as if they were girls or married women. 
She said on this point that she commanded and begged 
M. de Vaudemont to honour the f^te by taking out Madame 
la Princesse de Cond^, the dowager, to dance ; which he did 
to obey her ; and he took the princess to the grand ball ; 
those who were at the coronation, like myself, saw it, and 
remember it well. These were the liberties that widows 
had in the olden time. To-day such things are forbidden 
them like sacrilege ; and as for colours, they dare not wear 
them, or dress in anything but black and white ; though 
their skirts and petticoats and also their stockings they may 
wear of a tan-gray, violet, or blue. Some that I see emanci- 
pate themselves in flesh-coloured red and chamois colour, as 
in times past, when, as I have heard said, all colours could 
be worn in petticoats and stockings, but not in gowns. 

So this duchess, about whom we have been speaking, 
could very well wear this gown of cloth of gold, that being 
her ducal garment and her robe of grandeur, the which was 
becoming and permissible in her to show her sovereignty 
and dignity of duchess. Our widows of to-day dare not wear 
precious stones, except on their fingers, on some mirrors, on 
some " Hours," and on their belts ; but never on their heads 


or bodies, unless a few pearls on their neck and arms. But 
I swear to you I have seen widows as dainty as could be 
in their black and white gowns, who attracted quite as 
many and as much as the bedizened brides and maidens of 
France. There is enough said now of this foreign widow. 

9. Catherine de Clhves, wife of Henri I, de Lorraine, 
Due de Guise. 

Madame de Guise, Catherine de Cloves, one of the three 
daughters of Nevers (three princesses who cannot be lauded 
enough either for their beauty or their virtues, and of whom 
I hope to make a chapter), has celebrated and celebrates 
daily the eternal absence of her husband [Le Balafr^, kUled 
at Blois 1588]. But oh ! what a husband he was ! The 
none-such of the world ! That is what she called him in 
several letters which she wrote to certain ladies of her in- 
timacy whom she held in esteem, after her misfortune ; 
manifesting in sad and grievous words the regrets of her 
wounded souL 

10. Madame de Bourdeille. 

Madame de Bourdeille, issuing from the illustrious and 
ancient house of Montb^ron, and from the Comtes de P^ri- 
gord and the Vicomtes d'Aunay, became a widow at the 
age of thirty-seven or thirty-eight, very beautiful (in Guyenne, 
where she lived, it was believed that none surpassed her in 
her day for beauty, grace, and noble appearance) ; and being 
thus in fine estate and widowed, she was sought in marriage 
and pursued by three very great and rich seigneurs, to whom 
she answered : — 

" I shall not say as many ladies do, who declare they will 
never marry, and give their word in such a way that they 
must be beUeved, after which nothing comes of it i but I 


do say that, if God and flesh do not give me any other 
wishes than I have at present, it is a very certain thing that 
I have bade farewell to marriage forever." 

And then, as some one said to her, " But, madame, would 
you burn of love in the flower of your age ? " she answered : 
" I know not what you mean. For up to this hour I have 
never been even warmed, but widowed and cold as ice. Still, 
I do not say that, being in company with a second husband 
and approaching his fire, I might not burn, as you think. 
But because cold is easier to bear than heat, I am resolved 
to remain in my present quahty and to abstain from a second 

And just as she said then, so she has remained to the 
present day, a widow these twelve years, without the least 
losing her beauty, but always nourishing it and taking care 
of it, so that it has not a single spot. Which is a great 
respect to the ashes of her husband, and a proof that she 
loved him well ; also an injunction on her children to 
honour her always. The late M. Strozzi was one of those 
who courted her and asked her in marriage; but great as 
he was and allied to the queen-mother, she refused him and 
excused herself kindly. But what a humour was this ! 
to be beautiful, virtuous, a very rich heiress, and yet to end 
her days on a solitary feather-bed and blanket, desolate and 
cold as ice, and thus to pass so many widowed nights ! Oh ! 
how many there be unlike this lady — but some are like her, 


(See page 30.) 

Under Louis XII. the French fleet and the English fleet 
met, August 10, 1513, off the heights of Saint-Mach^ in 
Lower Bretagne. The English fleet, eighty vessels strong, 
attacked that of Erance, which had but twenty. The Erench 
made up for numbers by courage and abihty. They seized 
the advantage of the wind, fouled the enemy's ships and 
shattered them, and sent more than half to the bottom. 
The Breton Primauguet was captain of " La CordeUfere;" the 
vessel constructed after the orders of Queen Anne ; it could 
carry twelve hundred soldiers besides the crew. He was 
attacked by twelve English vessels, defended himself with 
a courage that amounted to fury, sunk a number of the 
enemy's vessels, and drove off the rest. One captain alone 
dared approach him again, flinging rockets on board of him, 
and so setting fire to the vessel. Primauguet might have 
saved himself in the long-boat, as did some of the officers 
and soldiers ; but that valiant sailor would not survive the 
loss of his ship ; he only thought of selHng his life dearly 
and taking from the Enghsh the pleasure of enjoying the 
defeat of the Erench. Though all a-fire, he sailed upon the 
flag-ship of the enemy, the " Eegent of England," grappled 
her, set fire to her, and blew up with her an instant later. 
More than three thousand men perished in this action by 


cannon, fire, and water. It is one of the most glorious pages 
in our maritime annals. 

French editor of " Vie des Dames lUustres," 
Garnier-Frferes. Paris. 


(See page 44.) 
This is doubtless the Discours merveilleux de la vie, actions, 
et deportemens de la reine Catherine de Medicis, attributed to 
Theodore de Bfeze, also to de Serres, but with more' proba- 
bility to Henri Etienne ; coming certainly from the hand of 
a master. It was printed and spread about publicly in 
1574 with the date of 1575 ; inserted soon after in the 
Memoires d'etat sous Charles IX., printed in 1577 in three 
volumes, 8vo, and subsequently in the various editions of 
the RecevAl de diverses pieces pour servir ic Vhistoire du 

rlgne de Henri III. 

French editor. 


(See page 91.) 
M. de Maison-Fleur was a gentleman of the Bordeaux 
region, a Huguenot, and a somewhat celebrated poet in his 
day, whose principal work, Les Divins Cantiques, was printed 
for the first time at Antwerp in 1580, and several times 
reprinted in succeeding years. For details on this poet, see 
the Bibliotheque Frangaise of the Abb^ Goujet. 

French editor. 


(See page 92.) 

We see, 'neath white attire, 
In mourning great and sadness. 
Passing, with many a charm 
Of beauty, this fair goddess. 
Holding the shaft in hand 
Of her son, heartless. 


And Love, without his frontlet, 
Fluttering round her, 
Hiding his bandaged eyes 
With veil of mourning 
On which these words are writ : 
Die or be captured. 

(See page 94.) 

Translation as nearly literal as possible. 

In my sad, sweet song, 
In tones most lamentable 
I cast my cutting grief 
Of loss incomparable ; 
And in poignant sighs 
I pass my best of years. 

Was ever such an ill 

Of hard destiny, 

Or so sad a sorrow 

Of a happy lady, 

That my heart and eye 

Should gaze on bier and coffin? 

That I, in my sweet springtide, 

In the flower of youth, 

All these pains should feel 

Of excessive sadness, 

With naught to give me pleasure 

Except regret* and yearning? 

That which to me was pleasant 
Now is hard and painful ; 
The brightest light of day 
Is darkness black and dismal ; 
Nothing is now delight 
In that of me required. 

I have, in heart and eye, 
A portrait and an image 


That mark my mourning life 
And my pale visage 
With violet tones that are 
The tint of grieving lovers. 

For my restless sorrow 

I can rest nowhere ; 

Why should I change in place 

Since sorrow wiU not efface? 

My worst and yet my best 

Are in the loneliest places. 

When in some still sojourn 
In forest or in field, 
Be it by dawn of day, 
Or in the vesper hour, 
Unceasing feels my heart 
Eegret for one departed. 

If sometimes toward the skies 
My glance uplifts itself. 
The gentle iris of his eyes 
I see in clouds ; or else 
I see it in the water, 
As in a grave. 

If I lie at rest 
Slumbering on my couch, 
I hear him speak to me, 
I feel his touch ; 
In labour, in repose, 
He is ever near me. 

I see no other object. 
Though beauteous it may be 
In many a subject, 
To which my heart consents, 
Since its perfection lacks 
In this affection. 

End here, my song. 
Thy sad complaint. 


Of whicli be this the burden : 
True love, not feigned, 
Because of separation 
Shall have no diminution. 


(See page 235.) 

This book, entitled Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des 
princesses, is a collection of the poems of this princess, made 
by Simon de La Haie, surnamed Sylvius, her valet de cham- 
hre, and printed at Lyon, by Jean de Tournes, 1547, 8vo. 

The Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre appeared for the 
first time without the name of the author, under the title : 
Histoire des Amants fortunes, dediee h, Villustre princesse, 
Madame Marguerite de Bourhon, Duchesse de Nivernois, by 
Pierre Boaistuau, called Launay. Paris, 1558 4to. This edi- 
tion contains only sixty-seven tales, and the text has been 
garbled by Boaistuau. The second edition is entitled: 
Eeptameron des Nouvelles de tres-illustre et tres-excellente 
princesse Marguerite de Valois, reine de Navarre, remis en son 
vrai ordre, by Charles Gruget, Paris, 1559, 4to. 

French editor. 

In 1841 M. Genin published a volume of Queen Margue- 
rite's letters, and in the following year a volume of her letters 
addressed to Frangois L 

Since then Comte H. de La Perri^re-Percy has made her 
the subject of an interesting " Study." This careful investi- 
gator having discovered her book of expenses, kept by Prott^ 
Marguerite's secretary, has developed from it a daily proof of 
the beneficent spirit and inexhaustible liberahty of the good 
queen. The title of the book is : Marguerite d'Angouleme, 
sceur de Frangois I^^. Aubry : Paris, 1862. 


The poems of Frangois I., with other verses by his sister and 
mother, were published in 1847 by M. Aim^ Champollion, 

Notes to Sainte-Beuve's Essay. 


(See page 262.) 

The Ladies given in Discourse VII. appear under the head 

of " The Widows " in the volume of Les Dames Galantes, a 

very different book from the Livre des Dames, which is their 

rightful place. As Brantome placed them under the title of 

Widows, he has naturally enlarged chiefly upon the period 

of their widowhood. 

French, editor. 


Anne de Beetagne, Queen of France, 
wife of Charles VIII. and of Louis 
XII., her inheritance, lovers, and 
first marriage, 25, 26 ; her beauty, 
wisdom, and goodness, 26 ; spirit of 
revenge, 27, 28 ; second marriage, 
29 ; the first queen to hold a great 
court, a noble school for ladies, 29, 
30; how King Louis honoured her, 
30-32 ; her death and burial, 32-34 ; 
her noble record, 34, 35, 37 ; her tomb 
at Saint-Denis, 39 ; the founder of a 
school of manners and perfection for 
her sex, 42, 43; Sainte-Beuve's re- 
marks upon her, 40-43, 219. 

Anne de France (Madame), daughter 
of Louis XL, 216-218. 

Blanche de Montpeeeat, Duchesse 
de Savoie, 293-297. 

Book of the Ladies (The), Bran- 
tome's own name for this volume, I . 

Bouedeille (Madame de), 297, 298. 

BouEDEiLLE (Pierre de). Abbe de 
Brantome, his name for the present 
volume, 1 ; origin and arms of his 
family, 3, 4; general sketch of his 
life and career, 4-19; his retirement, 
20 ; his books, his will, 21 ; titles of 
his books, when first printed, 22, 

Castelnaud (Pierre de), his account 

of Brantome, 1- 3. 
Catheeine de Cloves, wife of Henri 

de Lorraine, Due de Guise, " le 

Balafre," 297. 
Catherine de' Medici, Queen of 

France, wife of Henri II., 44 ; sketch 

of the Medici, 45-48; her marriage 
to the dauphin, 48-50; personal ap- 
pearance and tastes, 51-54 ; her mind, 
54 ; conduct as regent and queen- 
mother, Brantome's defence of it, 
57-72 ; her liberality and public 
works, 74 ; her accomplishments and 
majesty, 75-77 ; her court, 77-80, 
81, 82; Henri IV. 's opinion of it, 83 ; 
her death at Blois, 83 ; Sainte-Beuve's 
estimate of her, 85-88 ; H. de Balzac's 
novel upon her, 86 ; Mezeray's opinion 
of her, 85 ; her daughter Elisabeth's 
fear of her, 145, 146; 164, 165, 167, 
289, 290, 300. 

Charles IX., King of France, his 
funeral attended by Brantome, 35- 
37; 198, 264,265, 271,272. 

Charlotte de France (Madame), 
daughter of Francois I. and Queen 
Claude, died young, 223. 

Chastellard (Seigneur de), his jour- 
ney with Brantome in attendance on 
Marie Stuart to Scotland, 99 ; his 
story and death, 117-120. 

Christine of Denmark, wife of the 
Due de Lorraine, 283-291. 

Claude de France (Madame), daugh- 
ter of Louis XII. and Anne de 
Bretagne, wife of Francois I., died 
young, 223. 

Claude de France (Madame), daugh- 
ter of Henri II. and Catherine de' 
Medici, wife of the Due de Lorraine, 

CoKDELiiiRB (La), man-o'-war built 
by Anne de Bretagne, which fought 
the " Eegent of England," both ships 
destroyed, 30, 299. 




Dargaud (M.), his impulsive history 
of Marie Stuart, 122. 

Diane de France (Madame), Du- 
chesse d'Angouleme, illegitimate 
daughter of Henri II., 231-234. 

]Elisabeth de France, Queen of 
Spain, daughter of Henri II. and 
Catherine de' Medici, second wife of 
Philip II. of Spain, 137-151, 229, 
230, 270, 271. 

[Elisabeth de France, Queen of 
Spain, daughter of Henri IV". and 
Marie de' Medici, her portraits by 
Eubens, 212. 

Fleur-de-lis, how connected with the 

Florentine lily, 45. 
Franjois I., King of France, 219, 220, 

236, 237, 238, 241, 245-249, 254. 

Germaine de Foix, wife of King 
Ferdinand of Spain, 142, 143. 

Guise (Henri I., Due de), le Balafre, 
117, 198, 199, 273, 283, 288. 

Guise (Catherine de Cleves, Duchesse 
de), 288, 289. 

Henri II., King of France, 231, 232. 
Henri III., King of France, 177, 178, 

180, 184, 196-198, 234, 267, 280, 283, 

285, 286, 292. 
Henri IV., King of France, opinion 

of Catherine de' Medici, 83, 87, 88 ; 

176, 180, 181, 201, 209; remark at 

the coronation of Marie de' Medici, 

210; 234. 

IsABELLE d'Autriche, Quecn of 
France, daughter of Maximilian II., 
wife of Charles IX. of France, 262- 

Isabella op Bavaria, wife of Charles 
VI. of France, first brought the pomps 
and fashions of dress to France, 157. 

Jeanne d'Autriche, wife of Jean, 

Infante of Portugal, 270-273. 
Jeanne de France (Madame), daugh- 

ter of Louis XI., married to and di- 
vorced by Louis XH., 215, 216. 

Labanoff (Prince Alexander), his 
careful research into the history of 
Marie Stuart, 121. 

L'HopiTAL (Michel de), chancellor of 
France, epithalamium on the mar- 
riage of Marie Stuart and Fran9ois II., 
124; his changed feeling, 131, 132. 

Louis XII., King of France, 25, 29, 30, 
31, 32, 39, 41-43. 

Louise de France (Madame), daugh- 
ter of Francois I. and Queen Claude, 
died young, 223. 

Louise de Lorraine, Queen of 
France, wife of Henri III., 280-282, 

Magdelaine de France (Madame), 
daughter of Francois I. and Queen 
Claude, wife of James V. of Scot- 
land, 223, 224. 

Maintenon (Madame de), a pendant 
to Anne de Bretagne, 43. 

Maison-Fleur (M. de), 91, 97, 300. 

Marguerite de Valois, Queen of 
Navarre, sister of Framjois I., wife 
of Henri d'Albret, King of Navarre, 
grandmother of Henri IV., 234 ; her 
poems, 235 ; her devotion to her 
brother, 237-240, 245, 249; interest 
in the phenomenon of death, 242 ; 
her "Nouvelles," 242, 243, 244; 
Sainte-Beuve's essay on her, 243- 
261 ; her learning and comprehension 
of the Renaissance, 244, 245 ; her 
letters, 249 ; Erasmus' opinion of her, 
250, 251 ; favours, but does not be- 
long to, the Religion, 251-255 ; her 
writings, the Heptameron, 255-260 ; 
the patron of the Renaissance, 261 ; 
her works, 303. 

Marguerite de France (Madame), 
daughter of Francois I. and Queen 
Claude, wife of the Due de Savoie, 

Marguerite, Queen of France and of 
Navarre, daughter of Henri II. and 
Catherine de' Medici, wife of Henri 



IV., Brantome visits her at the Castle 
of Usson and dedicates his work to her, 
19 ; mention of her in his will, 22 ; 
his discourse, 152-193; her beauty 
and style of dress, 153-163 ; her mind 
and education, 164-166; marriage to 
Henri IV., 167 ; Brantome's argu- 
ment in favour of the Salic law, 168- 
175; difficulty of religion between 
herself and her husband, 176; her 
dignity and sense of honour, 178- 
180; retirement in the Castle of 
Usson, 183; on ill terms with her 
brother Henri III., 184; her beauti- 
ful dancing, 185 ; her liberality and 
generosity, 1 86-1 90 ; love of reading, 
191 ; corresponds with Brantome, 
191 ; Sainte-Beuve's essay on her, 
193; reasons why she began her 
Memoirs, 195; faithfulness to the 
Catholic religion, 195 ; intimacy with 
her brother d'Anjou, Henri IH., 
195, 197 ; her love for Henri Due de 
Guise, le Balafre, her marriage to 
Henri IV., 198 ; the Saint-Bartholo- 
mew, 201 ; her Memoirs, 202, etc. ; 
anecdote of a Princesse de Ligne, 
205 ; friendship with her brother. 
Due d'Alen^on, 206 ; her letters, 
208 ; her life at Usson, 209 ; divorce 
from Henri IV., 209, 210 ; return to 
Paris, eccentricities, appearance at 
the coronation of Marie de' Medici, 
210-212 ; comparison with Marie 
Stuart, 213; her real merit, 213, 

Marguerite de Lorraine, wife of 
the Due de Joyeuse,'282, 283. 

Marie d'Autriche, wife of the Em- 
peror Maximilian II., 291-293. 

Marie d'Autriche, sister of the Em- 
peror Charles V. and wife of Louis, 
King of Hungary, 273-280. 

Marie Stuart, Queen of France and 
Scotland, her parentage, 89 ; youth- 
ful accomplishments and beauty, 90- 
93 ; marriage to Eran9ois II., and 
widowhood, 93, 94 ; her poem on her 
widowhood, 94-96, 294 ; Charles IX.'s 
love for her, 96 ; returns to Scotland, 

Brantome accompanies her, 97-101 , 
marriage to Darnley, 101 ; Bran- 
tome's defence of her, 102; her 
disasters, 103 ; her imprisonment in 
England, 104; her death, as related 
to Brantome by one of her ladies 
there present, 105-115; Sainte- 
Beuve's essay on Marie Stuart and 
summing up of her life, 121-136, 289 ; 
her poem on her widowhood, transla- 
tion, 301. 

Mezerat (Fran9oi3 Eudes de), his 
History of France, his picture of 
Catherine de' Medici, 85. 

MiGNET (Francois Auguste), his in- 
valuable History of Marie Stuart, 
121, 122, 136. 

MoLAND (M. Henri), his essay on 
Brantome used in the introduction 
to this volume, 1. 

NiEL (M.), librarian to Ministry of the 
Interior, his collection of original 
portraits and crayons of celebrated 
persons of the 16th century, 86, 87. 

Patin (Gui), his feelings in Saint- 
Denis before the tomb of Louis XII. 
and Anne de Bretagne, 40, 41. 

Philip II. of Spain, 138, 139, 142. 

Eenee DE France (Madame), daugh- 
ter of Louis XII. and Anne de Bre- 
tagne, wife of the Duke of Ferrara, 

Rcederer (Comte), his Memoirs on 
Polite Society, study of Louis XII. 
and Anne de Bretagne, 41-43. 

RoNSARD (Pierre de), 91, 124, 156, 
157, 160, 185, 224. 

Sainte-Beuve ( Charles- Augustin), his 
remarks on Anne de Bretagne, 40- 
43 ; his estimate of Catherine de' 
Medici, 85-88 ; his essay on Marie 
Stuart, 121-136; on Marguerite de 
Navarre, 193-213; on Marguerite de 
Valois, 243-261. 

Salic Law (the), Brantome's argument 
about it, 168-175. 



Tavannes (Vicomte de), Memoirs, 136. 

ViGNAUD (M. H.), his introduction 
to Brantome's "Vie des Dames 
Illustres " used in the introduc- 
tion to this volume, 1. 

Vincent de Paul (Saint), chaplain to 
Queen Marguerite de Navarre, 212. 

YoLAND DE Feance (Madame), daugh- 
ter of Charles VII. and wife of the 
Due de Savoie, 214, 215. 


'■-,—> « 'J' 

. v^'^'^ 



#' »*A\im 

.•b^. - 


'Mf..^ v> 



/// ''c 

^\>' '^o 

'- - ^^'.;v 

^ ,^' 

AX^ '% 


■^ .\X 

.'^^ ''t. 

^' .V 

s*> <\ 

0^ .o.c,;-^^ '..s ^^^x 

.^-^ •% 







'if <fi^ 

<^^%. ^/M%,vJ^.* sj,^'-^ 


.5 -;> 

'^•^'f :MA' \4 

c^ ^-^ 


^ ^^. 




o 0^. 

4^ % 



^.- v^^ 



'f ۥ 

■^^ .^ 

* . ' CJ- 

.A^^ -% 

^,^^^ ^^^ 

N^"'' \. ^J^M:' 

.jrSr ^ 

^^ ,^^' 

^^, .^ 


■ ,1 ( ■• 

V - 


,V .r. 

-5'. c^ 

8 I ■* ■